Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quick Tips to Plan Your Social Media Engagement: 4P Framework

I tend to think in frameworks so whenever I can simplify or break things down into smaller pieces, I will do so. When I talk to people about social media and how to plan their engagement, I often ask if they want to hear the 2-minute or the 30-minute version. For the 2-minute pitch, I have come up with the 4 P’s of planning your social media engagement. This framework has nothing to do with Philip Kotler's 4Ps of Marketing Mix: Product Strategies, but I'm thrilled about the coincidence.

Obviously, you need to have something to talk about and you need to have your objectives in place. After that, consider applying the 4Ps. Think about the 4Ps as a quick and dirty framework or as a quick and dirty checklist you can run through to help make sure you cover your bases. Periodically, you can refer back to this framework to help ensure you’re on target.

A disclaimer first: although at the bottom of this blog I mention that the opinions expressed here are mine, I want to reiterate that these are my own thoughts. So if you don’t like what I’m about to say, please don’t blame my employer :-). Now that we have that covered, here we go:

1. People

In fields, such as high-tech, biotech, etc., where highly specialized knowledge and skills are required, the engagement and commitment of subject matter experts, or SMEs, is critical. Your social media managers – or interns – can only get you so far. They can help put the infrastructure and tools in place, give your company or products shoutouts, but they are not the right group of people to engage in meaningful two-way conversations. They are not your content experts. Therefore, if you want to be successful in social media, you will need to have your social media managers and subject matter experts engage together.

2. Places

Places refers to the location of your social media engagements. Exposure is key to success. Most people start “at home”, that is on social media destinations they own or manage. Unfortunately, many stay there. Giving attention to conversations that are taking place on guest platforms can help you in many ways, here are some to consider:

1) Prospecting
2) Uncovering competitive situations and pain points
3) Understanding, testing and/or validating search terms people are using and topics people care about in your segment
4) Gathering ideas for new products, business models and other bottom-line impacting efforts
5) Impacting sentiment

Let’s face it. Customers and potential customers that engage with you on the platforms you own or manage have already expressed some level of interest in you, or at a minimum, they know about you. But how can you find those that are not talking about you or your competition? By reaching them on platforms they participate on, or from your perspective, on guest destinations.

3. Parts

Parts stands for tools and applications you can use to help achieve your goals. These tools and applications fall into 3 categories: listening, engagement and measurement/analysis, and can be homegrown or developed by a vendor. Always let your objectives dictate your tools and applications.

4. Practices

The epitome of social media marketing is engagement. How you engage, to be precise. Too often companies are focused on social media campaigns and programs that have a beginning and an end date. But in reality, these efforts only “buy” you short-term victory. In order to be successful long term, organizations need to combine day-to-day social media engagement with their special occasion programs, such as launches, events, contests, sweepstakes, etc. These special occasions will add excitement to your daily Twitter or Facebook conversations, or your everyday listening efforts. However, it’s the day-to-day engagement that will truly help drive long-term preference, loyalty and even advocacy for your brand. In summary, the key is continuous and long-term engagement which you can achieve through the combination of day-to-day activities and special occasions.

As you can probably tell, I'm really passionate about this and could probably write a chapter on this topic. But for now, I hope you'll find the 2-minute version helpful.

© Copyright 2010.


  1. This is beautifully succinct, but I'd add a 5th P: Prepare. You can't dictate the conversation, so prepare for unanticipated responses to your social media efforts, particularly consumer complaints. Have a company policy about how to respond, who should respond, etc. Make sure that everyone in the company knows how to direct consumer queries and comments that they notice online to those who can handle them. Your own employees, whether or not they're directly involved in your social media efforts, may discover conversations that even the most skillfully configured "parts" won't.

  2. Thank you! In my mind, that is all needed under Practices but I understand the point you're making and why you're highlighting it separately. I'll take the 5th P for Process, Policies or Plan.. :-) Glad you enjoyed the post.