Social marketing expert Michael Brito says marketers must change their content tactics to join the stream of conversation
by Aaron Lazenby, March 2013
Before business leaders start sending Tweets and building Facebook fan pages for their brands, they need to create a careful strategy for going social. According to Michael Brito, senior vice president of social business strategy at Edelman, brands that behave more like media companies will have a distinct advantage. Profit recently talked to Brito after February’s Kapost Content Marketing event in San Francisco. Here, he explains more about his theory — and provides expert advice for building a team to help you successfully execute your social marketing strategy.
Profit: What can marketers learn from media companies?
Brito: Marketers are having an increasingly hard time getting their messages heard. And even when they are heard, their messages are usually filled with fluff. But when I think about a media company, a couple of things come to mind: One is media company employees write content that’s relevant right now; two, they are fast and agile; and finally, their content is omnipresent, meaning I can find it whether I use Google, Twitter or YouTube. Marketers need to focus on these same elements if they want to succeed in reaching customers with their message. And they have to be persistent; they are going to have to reach customers three to five times before they believe the marketing message.
Profit: Is there a difference between creating a social strategy and a marketing plan?
Brito: From a brand perspective, social is marketing. Just like traditional marketers, social marketers want customers to buy their products. And they want them to keep buying. And they want tell other people to do the same. Social gives business leaders at large brands a chance to be human and build trust. At which point, these leaders need to decide: Now that we have the trust of the community, how do we insert our marketing messages in a way that’s not intrusive?
Profit: How do marketers create effective content?
Brito: First, they need to take the brand pillars —the brand positioning statement, the brand or products guidelines — and then consider some additional elements. Third-party research. How the media perceives them. What is their community saying about them on Facebook or Twitter, or on a blog somewhere. They also need to figure out the types of content that perform really well. What content generates the most clicks? Or the most likes and comments and shares? The last piece is understanding how people search for the product. The total feedback from all these elements should shape the content strategy. To get there, there’s a lot of work to be done: There are meetings to figure out what content needs to go where and how often to share that content. They need to know how often to talk about the brand versus how often to discuss industry-related content. But at the end of the day, the output is hero content.
Profit: Who should be on the social team helping create this content?
Brito: Your social strategy should be driven by the marketing organization, but marketers need to collaborate with IT, HR, and employees from all over the company. This is another way you want to think like a media organization: You don’t want to share what your PR person said. You want to get the engineer or a data center manager who’s building your products every day to share his point of view. Also, like any relevant, agile media organization, you need be able to understand what’s trending on Twitter and have resources available to create content in less than an hour that adds to that conversation. So think about having someone with creative acumen on your team — a good content writer, someone from analytics or a community manager. That person should have the autonomy to create content without it having to go through a series of ten approvals. That’s real-time marketing, which should only be ten percent of your content strategy. You can’t make or break your brand on real-time marketing because it’s opportunity-based. What’s important is having that engine always on and ready.
Profit: When should you loop in IT?
Brito: Security and privacy are huge issues right now, so it’s important for marketers to have somebody from IT be a part of the conversation before you go create microsites and email campaigns. Your IT team is a lot smarter than you are from a technology perspective. Plus, by including them, you’ll cover your butt if something happens. Even when you’re building out a website or collecting email addresses, IT has to have a seat at the table to make sure that you’re covered from a legal perspective. For most marketers, IT has seemed like a barrier, because they’re always saying, “No, no, no, no.” But IT teams are realizing that they’re going to have to partner with marketing if the brand is going to be able to take advantage of all content marketing opportunities, including social media.