During BlogWorld & New Media Expo, Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company, mentioned how social media has helped Ford better integrate communication across advertising, marketing, and public relations. In fact, Ford will invest as much as 25 percent of its marketing budget on digital and social media this year.
The budget isn't assigned to one department. It is the cumulation of several communication department investments, a concept that exemplifies why we saw 2009 would mark the year of communication.
Integration Remains Elusive, Even Within Social Media
While some companies like Ford are moving forward, others seem to be moving backwards. In developing social media programs, they tend to develop what they call "strategies" for specific blogs, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.), aggregators (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.), and distribution services (YouTube, BlogTalkRadio, etc.). The two most common outcomes are: content duplication, where every account carries duplicated content, diminishing content value; or content fragmentation, where every account seems to exist in its own isolated bubble, competing for attention.
Developing a social media program requires a big picture view, with specific tactics and interactions assigned to account as it pertains to an overall communication strategy (note that I did say "social media strategy"). While there might be some overlap in the execution (e.g., Twitter updating Facebook), integrated social media provides a more robust experience for visitors with more choices. It also helps the communicator or communicators prioritize and manage the accounts.
Earlier this year, I developed a quick tip deck on how to select social media tools for organizations based on their audience, available content, and objectives. While it wasn't part of the 10-minute speed presentation, choosing the right tools greatly aids in time management.
The three studies ranged from managing a single blog without any social network outreach to an integrated social media program with YouTube and a blog, highly engaged Facebook and Twitter accounts, and outreach across several fan forums and groups. The latter, illustrated above, somewhat mirrored Jason Falls' Prioritizing Your Networks, except we tend to break out "customers" into participants, advocates, evangelists, and fanatics because each public tends to engage and promote in different ways. Time management would have been challenging without a plan.
Oversimplified, the social media program required frequent checks in order to answer fan questions on social networks. However, content sharing was planned, with the blog updated approximately three times per week with Fridays dedicated to new cast interviews on YouTube with additional insights provided on the blog. New content tended to drive the conversation on social networks, with each having a different function (e.g., Facebook tended to guide fans toward showings in select cities and encourage topical engagement; Twitter tended to cater to evangelists while introducing the film to the fans of specific cast members).
In contrast, I manage my own social media efforts differently. This blog is primarily used as an education tool. I tend to use Twitter as a conversational medium with bloggers and colleagues (and am currently developing a communication professional "300" list* to augment a near future experimental project). I tend to retain Facebook for closer friends and colleagues. And then, of course, there are a variety of other networks I keep up with regularly.
My point here is that social media is situational, which is why many "experts" have a hard time pinning it down. While social media programs may share similarities, no two are really alike. Yet, by developing a big picture view of the program (beyond joining every network on the planet because they seem popular), it becomes significantly easier to manage it.
Three More Sources for Social Media Time Management
• Social Media Time Management by Amber Naslund
• Three Steps To Better Time Management of Your Social Media Marketing by Rich Brooks
• My Social Media System by John Jantsch
*Valeria Maltoni's recent 100 Twitter list greatly influenced our initial picks.