This week I’m excited to introduce a three-part interview with Robin Frank, a marketing professional who leads the social media strategies for Gap Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store and other national brands. Away we go …
Robin, on these powerful brands you work with, how are you integrating social media marketing with traditional marketing strategy … or are you?
The reality is that big brands WANT to do social media the integrated way, but they often seem unwilling to invest a lot upfront in content, strategy and integration. The media also doesn’t help, as it leads them to expect big things for just showing up to the party. They figure once they have “proven” social media works, they will then get in there – lock, stock and barrel.

I see some brands that are reluctant to integrate traditional marketing (website, blog, email, or offline/online advertising, promotions etc.) until their social media programs are deemed “successful enough.” For these clients, it helps to have good analytics, a focused pilot, and to plot out the integration with their marketing strategy in phases.

Other brands have jumped head-first onto the social media bandwagon because they HAD to be there, but with minimal strategy, focus, and expertise and haphazard alignment to marketing/business objectives. They’re now wondering why they aren’t seeing the returns hyped by the media. These clients are open to integrating social media into their marketing mix – they just need help evaluating the best way to go about this – choosing the right channels, campaigns, and communication strategy.

What accountability does the social media aspect of brand management have? What metrics are in place and what tools do you use to measure progress?

The social media segment is finding itself increasingly accountable. At first, there were a lot of people talking about how social media doesn’t have traditional ROI, it has all kinds of other types like ROE, and how it was impossible to quantify the monumental impacts on brand equity and community. But that doesn’t fly for long with brand management.

You need to justify and quantify your efforts and the resources spent. And you need to be smart about it. There are numerous applications and platforms out there and it can be difficult for companies to know what to use and how to put it all together in a report that is really useful. I have my own selection of favorites which I customize to report both financial and non-financial indicators and present it in a compelling, useful, and actionable format.

While measurement and analytics are carefully tailored to each client, those of you trying this at home will want to include these same elements in your reporting – financial ROI to measure sales, transactions and customers; non-financial metrics to measure mentions, sentiment, link click-throughs, exposure, virals (retweets, comments, shares, etc.), and conversations/engagement.

 

So much of the success of social media is dependent on authenticity and personality. How does personality come through on your initiatives? How is the social media brand persona determined — through standards and guidelines or is it at the discretion of the communicator?

I guide my clients in creating a social media brand persona, and we define its limits together. I usually help craft or tailor guidelines for interaction and participation for all employees/contributors.

There is a lot of hand-holding that goes on – brands are sometimes stuck in the traditional push marketing voice – you know, the one devoid of human connection. They have to be educated on how to speak with a personality that people can connect with, and one that reflects their brand values.

I usually do a lot of the content in the first months, and they have to sign-off to make sure it is “on brand.” Over time, brands learn how to have a little fun and to be all the things they should be on social media – interesting, engaging, entertaining, helpful, and participatory – in other words, they learn to be a valuable member of the community they create.

Tomorrow: Social media culture change and consumer info overload!

Robin Frank consults with a wide range of companies – retail, banking, clean/greentech, and B2B – helping them establish cost-effective social media programs that increase marketing ROI and foster broader and deeper customer engagement and education. You can reach her at @robeen, robeenf@gmail.com, or linkedin.com/in/robinfrank.
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