When I was growing up, one of my all-time favourite cartoons was the one with Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.
For anyone not familiar, Wile was (as his name suggests) a coyote, and he was always trying to catch his titular nemesis, the Road Runner (a large bird whose signature sound was “meep meep”).
The problem was, no matter how many times Wile tried to catch Road Runner (and they were numerous!), he always seemed to fail in ways almost as spectacular as his plans were. It usually ended with Wile being flattened, falling off a cliff, being run over by a train or truck and more.
So what has this to do with taking social media and marketing from theory to operational? More than you might imagine.
Planning for Prolonged Success is Crucial
One of Wile’s biggest failings is that he only saw the immediate future and what he could do to make Road Runner his next meal. While short-term goals are fine for your business, it’s the long-term strategy that will see you succeed or fail.
Going for the quick hit may result in initial success, but you have to really plan for prolonged success.
Being fluid with your plans
Twitter and Facebook may be the golden child now, but you only need to look at MySpace and Friendster to see how the mighty can fall. You wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket offline – why act differently online? Watch to see how networks are being viewed by the analysts and be ready to change ahead of any meltdown.
Building partnerships for profit
Wile relied on Acme Products for some of the traps he put together to ensnare Road Runner. Having a loyal client partnership is one thing, but again, do you really want to just have one partner? Look at what your marketing needs are; look to see who’s enjoying significant success in the social space with tools that will meet your marketing needs; and build partnerships with each. Be prepared so if one partner falls, you won’t fall with them.
Having a solid back-up plan
Every time Wile failed to catch Road Runner, he’d move onto his next harebrained scheme, which was also doomed to fail. As the economic meltdown last year showed us, we never know what can happen – but we can be prepared. Make sure you’re not relying solely on social media to make your business a success. You still need to adhere to the Four P’s of Marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion – and build upon your offline success with this matrix. Some products and services just aren’t built for a social audience – use the Four P’s to define whether yours is or not.
Operation Social Audit
While on paper it might look like Wile had everything planned to a tee, the truth was a lot different. He didn’t really have any QA measures in place, and his projections on project success were always way off.
Again, he was blinded by the target and the possibilities as opposed to the mind of the target and the potential pitfalls.
Your success in mixing your marketing needs with the social media space can be defined early on by a social audit. This allows you to get into the minds of your target and also catch any pitfalls before you trip up on them operationally later on – something Wile could have learned from.
The target is not the only thing to shoot for
Any business needs to know its target audience, sure – but you also need to know how to aim properly. Connect with your existing audience before adapting to any social tools and ask if they’d benefit from you being there. If not, and you’re not aiming for a new audience altogether, do you really need to pull the trigger on an empty target?
Social media is not cost-free
No matter how many times you’re told social media is inexpensive, it’s not. It may save you on “traditional” advertising or marketing costs, but the time expense and the strategy meetings, research and follow-through all cost money as well.
A poorly executed social media strategy could cost you much more money in the long run as you count the cost of wasted man hours, talent, development and
execution. The Price part of the Four P’s is very evident here – make sure you scope your long-term investment costs and how you’ll measure return.
Another way to make social media operationally viable for you is to think how you can service your clients. Wile failed because he never had anyone in a similar situation to share his views with, and they could have corrected or recommended other methods to his approach, and taught him from their experience.
Your success so far has been because of your expertise in your sector. Clients and customers trust you. Why not use that trust and build on it?
Share some of your social marketing success with your clients and help them grow. Ask what’s worked for them. Build ideas together, both brick and mortar and online.
There’s no success more solid than shared victories and strengthened partnerships; as your knowledge and social marketing success grows so can that of your partners and clients, all led by you.
The Why of social media and marketing is long gone; the How is the now. Plan ahead; plan for longevity; build strong partnerships and best practices.
Learn from Wile E. Coyote and be the Road Runner. Be that one step ahead.