Making a transition and allocating resources to social media marketing
Danielle Courtenay, CMO, Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, speaks about aligning resources for social media marketing
By Ritesh Gupta
By Ritesh Gupta
It is largely believed that there need to be dedicated resources in an organization, at least partially, to social media. There are tools that can be used to help an individual stay on top of these – and keep the marketing team informed. However, those with existing skill sets in marketing and customer service need to understand the implications of social media – similarly to the way they are familiar with other mediums affecting their business and their customers. The key is to understand how social media can compliment your existing methods and activities.
The best skill set required to engage effectively in social media encompasses analytics skills, creativity, and a general proclivity to connect with people. These skills can exist in any department, and in fact, the best social media outreach usually engages multiple departments within an organization, ranging from marketing to product to engineering to editorial.
For companies, bringing a shift in culture or even allocating resources isn’t an easy task.
For instance, Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. (Orlando CVB) used to be heavily print-driven.
According to Danielle Courtenay, CMO, Orlando CVB, the organization started really focusing on transitioning its entire team to achieve more balance from top management to support.
“We started by more discussions on websites, value of SEO, how digital works. We conducted training with our team. We engaged those really connected with social media to be a part of the planning process. And, finally while social media is important, we developed a Digital Strategy document to ensure the organization was working off the same goals, language and to ensure focus and resourcing,” said Courtenay.
“As far as social media implementation, we have taken the team approach enlisting visitor services, advertising, interactive marketing, publicity, corporate communications and promotions to work together to maximize the medium.”
Social media belongs to a dynamic space. Given the immediacy of social networking, it’s imperative that the strategy and execution don’t end once it’s out of the door. The ability to quickly adapt and modify the approach is important based on that monitoring.
NileGuide’s CEO Josh Steinitz recommends, “Assign ownership within your organization. Also work to build that social media DNA into every employee. Collective energy, creativity and wisdom merged with personal responsibility is the best way to position your company for long-term success.”
At Orlando CVB, Courtenay says the focus is on taking a team approach like the organization does to many other aspects.
“We have engaged our call centre agents who are already communicating to consumers on the phone and via email in TripAdvisor, our crisis plan now includes social media and our publicity team is the group that posts on Facebook and Twitter while marketing ensures it is integrated into campaigns. We meet regularly as a team to discuss content and exposure and most importantly share learnings,” explained Courtenay.
Using social media in a tactical way, as part of an integrated marketing campaign, is an excellent way to test the waters and to see how engagement through social media affects your bottom line.
Courtenay is clear that social media should not be a standalone effort. It should be part of the marketing efforts as a tactic and utilise the same key messages as other tactics.
“A great way to try it out is launch for a specific promotion or an event. Then there is a clear start and end. If it is successful, the efforts can be transferred. If you decided it is not for you, you have a logical exit,” Courtenay said.
She added, “Like all aspects of marketing, you should define why are you putting resources toward social media and that will determine what aspects may fit best your company’s needs. We feel it is a great engagement tool to reach customers how they want to be reached. Sometimes you just have to take time to look at new opportunities as a way to learn more about your client.”
Each company must decide on how they want to measure ROI. If you want to measure customer engagement or guest satisfaction – both require different metrics. These are early days and the industry at large is still learning.
For some, social media is no longer just for “soft marketing” initiatives. It has now taken its rightful place in the suite of marketing initiatives that can be evaluated using some traditional ROI metrics, plus some new takes on what ROI means in the context of the social web. Marketers say that a stage has come where one secures top senior management level company buy-in into any company’s social media initiatives by showing data.
Courtenay says it depends on the company.
“Getting top management buy in should really happen before embarking on a programme. It has become mainstream so even the top senior management has begun to understand it has a place at the table. Whereas before, it was the next big “shiny object,” it is now looked at as part of the consideration set just like publicity, promotions, direct and advertising,” said Courtenay.
Word of mouth advertising can be a huge benefit or detriment to a brand, and social media is literally word of mouth on steroids. The biggest challenge is that most (large) companies are not comfortable with it, because it’s difficult to get your arms around.Significantly, companies are now much open to embracing opportunities.
“Gone are the times we can control all aspects of our brands. It makes it more important to develop a strong brand promise that is authentic and that you can uphold. Just as you would want to create a brand that people would talk about favorably off-line the same holds true for only. The company can communicate, but it must listen as well to ensure it is presenting the brand as it should,” said Courtenay.
There will always be challenges in integrating emerging customer channels into more established ones.
However, the proof is ultimately in the pudding---as social media starts to drive meaningful traffic and revenue for brands, business needs will overcome organisational inertia or resistance.
Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2010 Conference
Danielle Courtenay is scheduled to speak at the Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA conference which will take place in Miami (2-3 June).
Phone: +44 (0) 207 375 7197