If you look at the most successful marketing endeavors brought to life, I would place a big bet that they all started with a creative brief. In case you are not familiar with a creative brief, it is a document produced to help develop creative deliverables such as advertising, websites, visual design, copy, and other marketing outputs. The creative brief consists of a series of simple questions and the answers help the Creative Team generate concepts, ideas, and bring them to life.

So if you are driving social marketing wouldn’t it make sense to start with a social brief?

A successful social strategy does not start with “let’s put up a Facebook page.” While most are getting beyond this mentality, there is still no shortage ofpeople stuck trying to figure out where to start. Here are recommendations for that kickoff. Consider answering the following questions:

  • What is the business opportunity/problem? – Consider the business objectives … what needs to be accomplished.
  • What is the objective of the social marketing? – Remember, social is about building relationships and is typically not a great sales conversion tool. Consider psycho-demographics of social relationships otherwise known as the Social A-Path – Attention, Attraction, Affinity, Audience, Advocacy. Are you attempting to accomplish all states or a subset?
  • Who are you speaking to? – Who is the target demographic of the product/service? Do you reach them directly or are you speaking to the influencers of that target audience?
  • Who are they as a people? – Do you have any psychographic insights? Their wants, needs, motivators, turnoffs, or behaviors in general?
  • What is their mindset as it relates to using social for brand engagement and/or sharing? – Are they likely to share your content or produce product/service referrals? What can be done to greater provoke the likelihood of sharing and advocacy?
  • What is the digital behavior? – Look at reports to determine the digital use of your target demographic. What platforms do they use? Mobile usage patterns? Don’t assume everyone just uses Facebook. Get empirical data.
  • If you are marketing within a sensitive brand category, what is the willingness to discuss topical content? – Some brand categories such as personal hygiene, finance, etc. are difficult to get “socialized.” Recognize and document these challenges ahead of execution.
  • What is the audience perception of the brand today? – Is the brand viewed favorably? Negatively? Is it even known? Provide an honest assessment of the brand reputation.
  • Who is the enemy? – Who is the competition? Who are the entities that can combat your social initiatives?
  • What do you want the audience to think? – What is the key take-away, idea, and/or call to action you want your audience to gain from your social endeavors.
  • What is the single most compelling idea to convey to them? – What is the top level message or angle? Here, you need to specify needs in a truly singular manner. This is not a tagline or a headline.
  • How can it be proven? – Can your desired message, take-away, or perspective be demonstrated? What will it take to be supported?
  • From a social perspective, what do you want them to do? – What is the next step or call to action for the social user?
  • What are the potential challenges/barriers? – Are there any legal, cultural or behavioral issues that will create impediments for your social initiatives?
  • Executional Considerations – Final … there is much work and consideration that needs to be thought about before you can even begin to formulate social execution. But running through all the proceeding detail should guide you to the right social marketing elements for your brand and your target market. Look for the supreme intersection of your brand value and your audience’s behavior.
  • Mandatories – Are there any must dos? Usually this is dictated by your client or executive team.
  • Deliverables – At the end of the day, what will be the deliverables of the social program?
  • How will you measure success? – You cannot forget this part. It is time to give up on “feel good social” … “we generated great buzz” … “we increased our likes by 100%.” What are the REAL metrics that will demonstrate successful execution?
  • Key Dates – When do things need to be in place? This (along with budget) dictates scale of execution.

This is certainly not a short laundry list. If there is one thing I want to impress upon (as my key takeaway for you) it is that successful social marketing requires much pre-work (as well as continuous production and engagement). Have you ever been in a great relationship that did not require strong commitment? If you want your target audience committed to you, you’ll need to work hard upfront … prenuptials required.

Make It Happen!