Now that the NYE champagne has been emptied and your resolution resolve is already dissolving faster than an Alka-Seltzer, let’s look forward to 2012 and identify some steps for planning your brand’s social program calendar. At a high level, we want to assess a) the business objective(s) for the year, b) what those objective(s) translate into for social, c) the programs that we’ve run in the past, d) which of those programs were wildly successful or abominable failures, ande) how do we leverage those learnings in our proposed 2012 social programs calendar to accomplish the ends that we’ve set forth in a. Assuming you have a perfectly accurate picture of your brand’s last 12- to 24-months in social (tip: you don’t.) and you already know where you want to take the brand in the next 12- to 24-months, then you’ll only have to spend your time on step e, the actual program concepting. But if you don’t have a-d taken care of, you are setting your brand up for another year of possible wins, likely losses, and mediocrity in 2012. Best to start at the beginning then.
- Business Objective(s): What is your brand looking to accomplish in 2012? Are we expanding into a new market? Are we launching new products? Business objectives at this level tend to fall into only several categories - Awareness, Revenue, Engagement, Acquisition, Traffic (digital or foot) - and you can drill down into program-level objectives from there. We put the ‘s’ of ‘Objective(s)’ in parenthesis because we want to emphasize a focused approach, but there will no doubt be a few secondary objectives.
- How Objective(s) Translate to Social: Now that we’ve decided on our objective(s), determine how they translate into social. What does it mean that, more than anything in 2012, we want to ‘drive revenue?’ In that case, your social objectives may be to 1) get more consumers into your conversion funnel via social channels, 2) increase the average order value (AOV) via social channels, and/or 3) increase the number of opportunities for a social consumer to be exposed to your product or service. These social ‘translations’ of the objective(s) will help to crystalize the over-arching action items for the year.
- Past Social Programs: Take the major (and perhaps minor) initiatives in social for the last year or two, categorize them, and build your social program database. Make this database as thorough as necessary (try to lean towards ‘As Thorough As Possible’), attempting to get a complete picture of your brand’s experience in social over the last 12 to 24. If you have aunified interface for analyzing all of your social programs, fantastic; otherwise, you’ll have to manually compile and aggregate XLS data into a master set. Then, Approach//Solution//Results works well as a framework when compiling a slide deck of program snapshots. Having both the master social program database and the slide deck will set you up nicely for analyzing what worked and what didn’t.
- Wild Successes and Abominable Failures: Now, with that program database, analyze your KPIs based on the previous business objectives for the brand in social. This is when your Excel junkies (aka analysts) really come in handy – hopefully you’ve treated them well all year. Which programs were similar, and how did they perform program-over-program (POP)? Did your optimizations work, or were they ‘floptimizations’ (or did we continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results)? Take the highlights and lowlights, determine the ‘whys’ and the ‘why nots’, and with the now-updated social program master slide deck you’ll be fully armed to begin the actual concepting of your 2012 social programs.
- Use Program Analysis for Concept Calendar: And now for the fun part. Begin your program concepting, and sculpt a social program calendar based on those objectives we identified in a. For this, we use a framework called Program Identity Design (PID), which results in a PID Map – a fully-developed and packaged-up program concept that can be distributed to the entire team, from CMO down to the individual engineers, so that the purpose of the program is crystal clear across the business units. From here, you can plug several PID Maps into your social program calendar and know that what you’ve developed has integrity with your objectives and the overall direction of the business.
The above framework can take a few days, a week, a month, or longer, depending on your brand, rigor, and desired results. The take-away, though, is to not start at the end and simply throw a few concepts together in a slide deck; start at the beginning (that is, after all, usually the best place to start), so that your program concepts have integrity across your entire business. Anything else is just making the same old donuts.