by: Finella Kristle Panlilio
Monday, March 23, 2015 |
It should go without saying that every cyber activity conducted by an organization should be strategic, tightly focused, and valuable. There are five key questions that need to be addressed before an organization sets out to engage and establish a presence on the digital space. Ideally, these questions are tackled by a small group of key players. Also, organizational leaders, albeit not that digitally sophisticated, can provide guidance to make sure those to whom they’ve delegated several digital engagement activities are as focused and efficient as possible and are maximizing the return on investment.
1. What are you trying to achieve?
This is where everything begins: a clear articulation of your organization’s goals and objectives in concrete terms. Are you doing this to generate revenue? If so, how do you want to do that? Or do you want to increase awareness of your company and/or your brand(s)? If this is the case, think about the main products/services you want to promote, which market segment(s) you want to focus on, who your customers are and their key characteristics, and given the typical sales cycle, whether or not your promotional focus is long-term. Or perhaps you’d like to demonstrate thought leadership? Then determine what kinds of thought leaders you want to be seen as, and by whom.
2. Who is your target market?
This requires comprehensive research, but should already be known just as with your organization’s goals and objectives, at least at a basic level. Who makes the buying decisions? What are their general demographic characteristics? Know how digitally literate your audience is, how engaged they are and where, their digital activities and interests, and types of content they prefer. While these can be hard to address in detail, it should still be possible to get a general sense based on historical information and knowledge. A great way to get more certain answers is by conducting research via focus groups and/or by surveying current/prospective customers.
3. How does digital engagement help you achieve your goals?
Once you’re armed with a set of strategic and tactical objectives and the profile of target audience in both general and digital terms, it’ll be fairly easy to assess which platforms and channels offer the best potential ROI. Compare readily available user information from established digital channels and platforms (like demographic data, communication styles, and engagement activities) against goals and audience profiles to determine the best fit and opportunities. You’ll find that some platforms are best for revenue generation, while others for brand awareness, and still others thought leadership; and that different channels/platforms are most appropriate for different market segments. The key is to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that a multi-channel, segmented, targeted approach to digital engagement is probably best.
Match each goal to its target audience and specific digital channels/platforms, adding the type of digital engagement that makes the most sense for each. Channels/platforms where you’ve established a strong presence will provide a foundation for assessing whether and how new channels/platforms fit into the overall digital engagement mix.
4. Can you do it right - and can you keep it up?
This is where the big challenge lies: being realistic about what you can do given resource constraints. Determine the required investment in terms of human resources, time, and money. Is it worth it in terms of the potential return? Make a digital competency assessment first by asking if you have the internal resources with the necessary digital literacy to establish a strong presence and represent your company and brand(s) well. If you don’t have the right internal resources, consider outsourcing your digital engagement and to whom.
Also, think of how you can ensure that assigned resources have the knowledge, skills and abilities needed, are effective as well as efficient, and have the judgment to questions things and look for better approaches. No matter how skilled someone is, establishing a strong presence in any digital channel is time-consuming and requires ongoing commitment. The demands are relentless and holiday breaks don’t exist in cyberspace. These are the required activities:
5. Are you prepared to pull the plug if/when necessary?
Just as you have to give a decent amount of time to get started and take off, you should also set a deadline by which you’re going to make a “stay or go” call (and by what criteria). When that time comes, assess whether a continued investment of resources is warranted based on the results to date and in the context of other organizational priorities. Should you need to take a temporary break, let people know you’re on hiatus. Be realistic about whether you’re ever going to return to the digital property. If you’re not, it’s best to pull the plug officially and not look back.