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11/12/2010 Treat Social Marketing as a Constant Learning Opportunity

You’ve identified your need to participate in social media. Check.
You’ve developed goals and created a social strategy. Check.
You’ve chosen a few members to run the initiative. Check.
You’ve launched your social channels. Check.

Time to site back, watch what happens, and put that in your list of marketing goals accomplished for the year, right?


One of the mistakes I see around me is the misconception that there’s a clear playbook for social marketing. There’s not. There’s an assumption that you do what you’ve set out to do and if it works, great, but if it doesn’t, you can turn it off.

The problem with this, somewhat linear thinking is that social is a new channel and constantly changing. Even if you have a dialed-in content strategy that feeds it, your social marketing deals with unpredictable individuals and, sometimes, platforms every day. Successful social marketing involves a high degree of iteration and improvisation.

A smart approach is to treat social marketing as a constant learning opportunity. From a process standpoint, it makes the work a lot easier and more understandable to the people doing it. From a marketing standpoint, it’s what you should be doing anyway!

Your social team needs training, discussion, and more training.

Here are some things you can do to make your team more effective:

Start with Training – Before your team gets too far down the road, or even if they’re just starting, invest in some training. The training could include best practices, reviewing your social policy and strategy, training on the tools and scenario based training. The idea with initial training is to make sure people are both prepared for the unexpected and that they know where to turn when they have questions. If you’re sending your front line employees to do battle, make sure they’re armed.

Keep Talking – One of the reasons companies put together inter-disciplinary social teams is to keep a discussion alive about what people experience when they’re managing your social marketing. Every person can provide new teachable moments to the others, based on her or his own experience. This support group helps build consensus and aligns your social voice. More importantly, it gives your social team a needed safety valve for problems, or sounding board for new ideas.

Ongoing Training – As noted before, new things keep popping up in social media. It’s a good idea to provide new training at regular intervals to the team. You can’t learn everything at once; so multiple training allows the team to learn new tools and to help develop newer, evolved strategies, once you’ve tested your initial strategies. It’s also critical to offer newer team members who might have joined the group. 

The “one and done” model is old thinking, still prevalent in a lot of marketing departments and agencies. For a fluid medium as social marketing, every day is an opportunity to learn something new. If you want your social team to perform to their optimal ability, you should build in formal learning opportunities along the way.



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