The Three Appendices in Your Social Media Marketing Plan

These are three things you think you need. You don't need them. And having them could cause you pain later.

Your body has an appendix. It doesn’t do much. You don’t notice it until something goes wrong. And without it, you’re neither better nor worse off. So, your appendix is really just something that can go wrong without delivering any upside. It’s all risk and no return … who would possibly take that deal? Your social media marketing plan probably has an appendix too: all downside, no upside and yet you obsess over it unnecessarily.

Many companies have one (or a few) areas of social media where they invest heavily thinking that it makes a difference. It costs money and invites risk. The conventional wisdom, such as it is, has convinced marketing professionals that these areas are important. Let’s take a look at three of them – so you can give your social media marketing plan the appendectomy it needs!

1. Voice: I’ve written a lot about social media “voice.” A lot. Because it bugs the hell out of me. I hear claims that a corporate social media presence needs to have one, and that it has to be distinct. To a certain extent this is true. After all, your social media presence should follow your brand and your messaging. After that – which should happen as a matter of course in an integrated marketing environment – skip it. Trying to cultivate a certain personality on a corporate blog or Facebook page is like trying to do so in real life.

What to do instead of “voice”: ask your readers/target markets what they want. If they want deals, send them deals. If they want research, or “how to” articles, deliver! (And don’t worry about the “voice” you use).

2. Authenticity: now, we all know this is tightly linked to “voice.” But, it’s another scam. Every corporate blog I’ve launched or written for has been just that: a corporate blog. I made it a point never to conceal that fact. Of course, we focused on informing and educating rather than converting into the sales pipeline (although we did a bit of that too), but I never tried to position them as anything close to independent. What does this mean? All my readers knew the corporate blog was a marketing tool, and it worked. They knew what I was trying to sell, and the corporate blog was (a) worth it to them and (b) effective in that they saw what I was trying to sell as a potential solution.


What to do instead of “authenticity”: focus on your content. Identify the information gaps and pain points in your target market. Address them, and align them with specific solutions that your company offers.

3. Consensus: some people will have to wind up disappointed. It might be a nice idea to have everyone fully on board from the start, but the reality is that there has to be one person in charge … and that every idea isn’t necessarily a good one (at least not right away). You need support from across your organization, but balance it with a plan and evidence to support the fact that you know what you’re doing.

What to seek instead of consensus: demonstrate your expertise. In any marketing organization, you can get bogged down with the ideas of non-marketers that are unlikely to generate any real value. Your job is to separate the excellent feedback from outside your department (such as market insights or client knowledge) from the flavor-of-the-month stuff that can cost you both budget and revenue (such as, “It would be really cool to …”).

Do a little “preventive medicine” on your social media marketing plan. Strip out these potential problems before you get started. Cut off any wasted effort, and keep unnecessary risk out of your organization. Instead, focus on getting return on investment. That’s the point, right?

[photo by salimfadhley via Flickr]