How to be an agile social media marketer

Christy Kirby, Product Marketing Manager, Marketing Solution

Creating year-long plans has always been difficult, and for today’s marketers, sticking to them is almost an impossibility. The speed and connectivity of social media makes it difficult to predict trends more than a couple weeks in the future (at best), and this means that marketers must adapt — not just their content, but their strategies — to keep up.

The biggest shift we’ve seen in marketing strategy over the past few years is an increased value placed on agility. Instead of lengthy, bulky, long-term plans that risk irrelevance after a month or two, marketers today are opting for more flexible ways of planning. But this doesn’t mean throwing out all of the old wisdom; there’s still a great deal of value in process.

The key element to remember is that even with a shorter planning cycle, campaigns still need defined goals, performance assessments, and data-driven content. There are many ways to make this happen, and different marketers and brands will adopt different strategies. But there are common threads, and you can follow the industry leaders to transform your existing processes for planning, creating, and assessing social media marketing campaigns to move at the speed of social media. Here are three of the most important strategies that the agile marketer relies on in 2020.

The social media pocket guide

Chart, and be prepared to re-chart, your North Star

It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the most important foundations for marketing agility is careful, intentional planning. Before you commit to any content, define your key goals as a brand. Are you looking to generate awareness? Is it more important to have a successful product or service launch? Are you looking to move more of your sales to ecommerce and need campaigns to facilitate purchase behavior?

At the beginning of the year, outline two to three top goals, breaking those into three- to six-month priorities. Align campaigns and budget to those goals accordingly. However, don’t box yourself in: wait until closer to the time of launch to determine the subject, tone, and audience for your campaign, as they may shift according to changing trends. And certainly don’t write copy or produce creative content until you have to; waiting will minimize the risk of having to duplicate your work.

Brand goals aren’t as volatile as industry trends. Brands that start out a year with the goal of building a marketing campaign to the growing scale of their customer base typically don’t finish it trying to build brand awareness. That’s why it’s safer to plan goals than it is to plan specific content.

But major social shifts can still affect goals. A faux pas on social media can send marketing and PR teams into damage control mode; a sudden economic downturn can turn focus from new customers to renewals. Perhaps the best example of this is COVID-19, which has affected marketing goals (in one direction or another) for just about every brand in the world. It’s impossible to predict changes like these, so it’s important to keep goals as general as possible (while still keeping them useful). For help on striking this balance, Khoros customers can take advantage of our world-class Strategic Services team.

Allow room for impromptu campaigns

An appropriately flexible annual (or quarterly, or monthly) plan enables one of your most effective marketing tools: impromptu, culturally relevant content. Now, given the inherent lack of planning in impromptu campaigns, there’s always a heightened risk of posting something that doesn’t align well with your brand, or worse, doesn’t sit well with consumers. So don’t relax oversight or break established brand protocols just to get relevant content published quickly; the risks outweigh the potential benefits.

Still, once you have minimized risk in your content, have some fun with it, and don’t be afraid to keep it relevant. Consumers today are looking for real, human interaction with brands, so show them your human side. Here's a brand doing a great job with impromptu content:

Here, Whole Foods has seized a trending hashtag on Twitter — #foodiebandnames — and playfully incorporated it into their organic social media content strategy. It’s brand-appropriate and it aligns with goals, but it’s also clever and fun. The Whole Foods social media team found a great way to drive engagement by staying not only flexible, but vigilant. (Learn how you can keep an eye on trends related to your industry with Khoros Deep Listening).

Best Buy’s Twitter team has done the same thing here:

This post is clearly the result of an agile social media content strategy; it takes a topical, clever tweet from a consumer, and leverages it to promote the brand. This is also an excellent example of user-generated content — content or ideas sourced directly from a target audience or market to promote a brand.

After all, who better to inspire you than your market?

Become a student of your market

Perhaps the hardest part of a content or social media marketer’s job is ideation. Developing ideas for content is time consuming and requires advance planning — two features that reduce agility. Smart digital marketers mitigate this drag on agility by sourcing ideas from the audience they plan to serve. They listen to what their audience is asking for, using it to inform their brand's trajectory before ever putting (virtual) pen to paper.

But how? How can the social media marketer effectively research trends on social media without wasting so much time to make it not worth the effort?

Social listening.

Social listening is the process of searching content, sentiment, and behavioral trends on social media to develop insights that you can apply to your social media strategy. It’s of paramount importance for brands today because social media has become more competitive than ever, and in order to stand out, brands must deliver social media experiences that meet their customers’ preferences and expectations. With Khoros Deep Listening, marketers can perform social media listening searches across major platforms with ease.

Customize workflows and tools to meet your goals

The process of content creation is often just as important as the content itself. Set your content team up for success by asking some important questions. Do your writers, designers, and developers consistently have what they need — in one place — when they start their project, or do they need to go back and ask other team members for help? Do team members know how to maintain quality control? Is there a clearly established review process? Are relevant parties joining conversations after they’re already over?

With Khoros Marketing, marketers are able to manage every aspect of their social media marketing strategy easily and effectively so they can focus on driving more, efficiently. Click below to learn more.

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