Building on Janet Lee Johnson’s 5 Phases of Social Media Marketing

The other day, long time social media expert and blogger (and the person who has taught me a thing or two in this area…) Janet Lee Johnson wrote an excellent blog outlining the 5 Phases of Social Media Marketing.

Janet’s blog begins by referencing the February BusinessWeek article Dubunking 6 Social Media Myths, echoes that social media programs aren’t free, and outlines the five phases she uses to develop and define a social media marketing effort for her clients.

While pharma is clamoring to jump into web 2.0  and social media marketing, though often using only the ‘safe’ social media programs given their regulatory concerns, it looks like many are jumping in with assorted tactics or ‘one-offs’ and not necessarily taking a strategic, holistic or 360 view…

There is much pharma and others could gain from stepping back and taking a more strategic and rigorous view before jumping into social media…

Janet’s blog highlights 5 basic phases to consider:

Phase 1 – Discovery…

In this phase, she explores three variables:

  1. People: Who are your prospects and customers, and how do they feel about your brand, service and products? Are they talking about you online? If so, what is your online reputation? (Positive, negative, neutral?) What are people talking about? What interests them? How does this fit with your brand or company objectives?
  2. Competition: What are your competitors doing online? Where can we leapfrog them? What is their online reputation?
  3. Spiders: How easy is it for you to be found by an average searcher who may be searching for your products online? (Keywords, site optimization, Search Engine Optimization [SEO], etc. come into play here.)

I’d add another for pharma given its highly regulated nature:

  4.  Company view and openness to social media: What is the company’s view with regard to social media–its impact on the brand and market being considered? How would social media marketing fit into the company’s regulatory/medical/legal view? DDMAC considerations? What parts of your message must be part of any social media program to keep within DDMAC standards? (Remember: ‘it’s not the media but the message’ according to DDMAC officials…See my April 2 blogFDA Issues First-Ever Draft Guidance…” and “A Conversation with FDA/DDMAC about Pharma, Social Media and Web 2.0

Phase 2 – Strategy…

In this phase,  explore the opportunities and establish the objectives of a social media plan – based on the lessons learned in the Discovery phase. Questions include:

  • What do you want your prospects and customers to think of you, and how do you want them to experience you, once you’ve begun your dialog?
  • How is this different from their current perception?
  • How might we further pay off your brand promise, and distinguish your customer experience from competitors?
  • … and many more …including how will we measure success? What are the best metrics and measurement?
  • How do the different social media strategies complement and fit with current marketing programs and brand objectives?

This Phase is usually highly collaborative; and involves key players from around an organization (and partners), not just the marketing folks.

Phase 3 – Skills & Internal Assessment…

Once we have developed a Strategy, we’ll review an organization’s internal resources to identify gaps.  Whose skills need building? How might we best train participants?  And to what extent would it be wise to train the employee base about what to expect?

(Janet’s Hint: “I always recommend getting everyone up to speed on any social media program – when I was at Marqui, that turned out to be one of the most valuable things we did in support of, and preparation for, one of the most controversial, viral programs I’ve ever managed.”)

“In my experience, getting your employees up to speed on social media marketing usually requires a couple of training sessions held on-site. These are generally in-depth training sessions tailored to select audiences in the company – e.g. your marketing and PR teams, your customer service folks, your executives and the entire organization.”

For Pharma, this would also include understanding and working through the on-going medical/legal/regulatory process and education…also, insuring that there are resources in place with the time and experience to consistently drive the effort and learning…

Phase 4 – Execution…

As we prepare to implement our strategy, we determine which tools to use, how they interface with your existing infrastructure, and ensure the processes and platforms are properly tied together. We explore the following:

  • Are your systems all operating together as desired?
  • Is there a crisis communications plan in place? Do participants know what it is? …critical and not to be overlooked!
  • Are your company policies updated for blogging, texting and IM and other social media tools? And what is the on-going process for planning and reviewing social media programs, and the process for responding in a timely fashion to the social media blogosphere?
  • Are your employees aware of your policies? If not, do we need to train them?
  • Will your CRM system interface with your social media tools? How will you move people into your sales process? etc.

Phase 5 - Maintenance…Continuous Learning & Improvement

“After the launch, Maintenance becomes key.  In this phase, I make myself available for whatever comes up; checking in weekly with the team, make suggestions on content, make reminders for activities, and generally ensure the organization is thriving online.

Any experienced social media expert (and we’re crawling out of the woodwork these days, believe me) will have a stepped approach and methodology to launching an organization safely into the social realm.”

Reviewing metrics and learning…listening to customers and prospects…identifying improvements…

Janet, thank you for your words of wisdom!

Other ideas and thoughts to consider?