It seems more and more brands are looking to embark on the path of engaging social media as I been getting a couple of queries about it.

Starting any marketing activity requires a plan and to start a social media campaign isn’t any different. Yet, social media sounds so new that it seems that it actually requires a new pitch to it.

Googling (that’s so web2.0, lol), I came across POST – a systematic approach to social strategy by Forrester’s Josh Bernoff of the Groundswell blog.

The approach is two years old but I believe it still applicable for brands looking to cross the chasm into the realm of social marketing.

I have added two of my own components (EM) to make this approach a little more complete.

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P is for People” said Josh and rightly so.

Identifying your audience first helps you scope the rest of the strategy.

Who do you want to target? Are they bloggers in a certain age group? Are you looking a communities instead? Are you looking to engage the influencers, early adopters or just the mass market?

O is for Objectives” and delve into what you want to accomplish. Are you just looking for coverage online? Are you looking to increase traffic to a site or increase the number of registered members? Are you looking to interact with your customers?

S is for Strategy”. Josh wrote that this “means figuring out what will be different after you're done”. Have you increased two way interaction between the brand and the customer? Are more people talking about your brand or your product after this campaign?

T is for Technology”. You don’t have to use every single social media tools that is available out there. Sometimes, it is better to stick to one rather than sow your seeds on every available social media tool out there on the Internet. This allows you to focus on building up a following.

Here comes my part.

E is for Execution”. You need an execution plan and this is where your tactics fall in place. If you have chosen blog to be your technology of choice, you need to have tactics to how to populate content, distribute the content,

If Facebook fanpage is your choice of weapon, how are you going to use it to interact with your fans? Or how are you going to reward your Fans for being a fan of the page? Do you intend to make use of the resulting demographic profiling to do target marketing?

M is for Measurement”. Measurement is important because it allows you to provide insights into whether you social strategy is working or not. For example, if your objective is to improve the perception of your brand, what are you going to use to measure to determine this?

If you objective is to increase interaction with your customers, how do you show that has been done?

But most importantly, social media is not about the tool. Social media is about the interaction and you can’t have interaction if it is just one way.

This said the worst you could do with social media if you treat it as a one communication, top down to the audience.

Not only is listening also important, you also need to interact with your audience or act upon suggestions and improvement made by your audience.

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