Big or small – almost every brand that you know would have a brand page on Facebook. Marketers look at Facebook as a very important channel that enables the brand to communicate with their fans and build their fanbase. Facebook is, of course, not alone in the social universe. Other social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare and YouTube, for example, also serve as platforms that drive user interaction and thought leadership. Thus, a majority of brands find it relevant to establish their presence on multiple social platforms to activate and engage with audiences to impact their actions, thereby, creating a “network of networks”.

In an attempt to target its audience, each brand function leverages the power of social media to build their individual presence and drive their own initiatives. Slowly, but, steadily, they keep moving away from the brand objectives and guidelines creating a fragmented brand-map with inconsistencies in user experiences and messaging that can diffuse the brand’s marketing outcome. The fragmented presence also makes it very hard to derive specific or cumulative metrics that can be used to measure the social media effectiveness of the brand. It is a well-known fact that social media creates the all-important connection between the brand and its audience. Social media enables virality of content, creating a reach beyond numeric estimations. These are two big features that would then translate into social marketing ROI. Brands need to build, grow and co-exist among their users, and as social platforms evolve, tools and resources become inadequate, especially if, the presence is scattered.

The first step to deliver a consistent, responsive, efficient and a measurable audience engagement is to classify your online footprint into components. Broadly, these components can be categorized as – Company web properties, Conversation places, Publishing platforms and Search tools.

The next step is to build a strategy that would wire-up these various components to deliver a unified experience. Each component, in itself, is a network-of-networks with different brands creating engagement platforms to extract opportunities, hence, your messages need to be targeted, timed and optimized with a lot of planning and precision to cut through the clutter. While defining the strategy, it is also very crucial to align with social media objectives, core marketing strategy and governance.

An assessment methodology needs to be defined, based on each individual social channel. The assessment should be an on-going process to gauge performance and alignment. The strategy would build on this assessment to lay down a framework to implement operational models finally leading to ROI – reach, relevance and resonance.

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