It's Time to Standardize Social: Introducing the Social System

Gretchen Fox

November 28, 2016

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In my last blog post, "No, it's not you-Social Media Advice Really Is All Fluff," I called for social professionals to take action and set some standards to improve our industry.

Today, I'd like to share the simple, straightforward, easy-to-follow, systematic and scalable approach my business partner, Kyra Reed, and I have identified (and visualized) for how to develop a social strategy and program. We are calling it The Social System.

The Social System

Our intention is for The Social System to become an industry standard, similar to the 4 P's of marketing, that all social professionals can use as a cornerstone to build a successful social strategy. You can read the back story of our discovery of this system in this article in Adweek's Social Times.

Since our discovery, we have tested the system with all of our clients and have optimized it until we have the confidence to say, it works. It works if you are a startup, small business or an international corporation.

It works if you have one part-time social manager or a sophisticated marketing team and agency. It works with greater success than anything either of us have ever seen. And better than anyone we have used it with has ever seen.

Aimen Barman, CMO of YouCaring (disclosure: YouCaring is a client of [mto]) says "The Social System is brilliant. It has created a clear path for the development of our own in-house social expertise and given our team an approach to social that is strategic, thorough, and executable. I highly recommend this approach to any organization ready to take social seriously."

The system is so easy to understand that if you're a senior social pro, you'll feel like you already know it.

If you are a traditional marketing/communications professional, it will feel like common sense. And for those brand new to social, it will give you the foundation you need to start your social program off right. Many of us have been doing the steps, just not necessarily in order, or all the time or systematically.

We would like to change that now.

Introducing The Social System: 5 Steps to Social Media Success

Step 1: Define your Social Identity: Who Are You?

Historically, branding and creative teams defined a company's Identity, or who they are, by focusing on market positioning, a color palette, a logo, etc. All examples of the Identity necessary for one-way communication. The message goes out and there is no requirement to respond or react either publicly or immediately.

In the social age, traditional brand identities are not enough. They do not provide the robust personality nuances social professionals need to do their jobs. The age-old marketing question of Who Are You needs to broaden its view for a two-way conversation. Not just what goes out, but how it goes out and who the brand is when in dialogue with your audience. Social requires a fluid and engaging persona, a Social Identity, that mirrors the brand's values and speaks the brand message, with personality.

Professionals need to know:

  • What is the personality of the brand when it talks online?

  • What does it say, what does it not say?

  • How does it say it? (tone and voice)

  • Identifying your brand's Social Identity is the first step to take when building a social strategy, program, department or campaign. It is the first building block, the root from which your entire social program should develop.

    Step 2: Define Your Community: Who are you talking to?

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but there is a distinct difference between traditional methods for reaching your audience, going to where they are and communicating with them there (banner ads, direct mailers, tv ads, etc.) and what happens on social media - they come TO YOU.
    Many clients have felt incredibly overwhelmed by the mystery of to whom they should address their content when it feels like the entire world is watching. We've seen some interesting solutions to this problem:

  • Viewing everyone as their target audience and creating bland and generic content nobody cares to see

  • Alienating their many audiences by focusing on the needs of one

  • Allowing Facebook insights and other demographic data to dictate who they target

  • Creating multiple pages for multiple audiences

  • Identifying your community needs follows Step 1 (instead of being Step 1) because the reverse is equivalent to the tail wagging the dog. Even though you can theoretically speak to the whole world, you still need to be clear about who you are first and then define with whom you want to talk. Feeling pressured to be all things to all people or letting the public decide who you are, creates a lot of work with a return of little to no results.

    If you're clear on who you want to talk to - you can make a connection that counts. If you have many people you want to reach, you can talk to them all. You just have to make the effort to speak to their needs specifically.

    Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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