Agile Decision Making Framework is Flexible

The answer is Yes, you can! The question is, can you use the Agile Decision Making Framework for anything besides strategic planning?

Adapting the Agile Decision Making framework to social media planninggThe beauty of the Agile Decision Making Framework is that it can be applied to any type of project – even marketing and social media planning. The framework helps you focus your thinking by answering five strategic questions as you work your way around the template.

Many social media plans I’ve seen start with identifying your ideal customer and their specific needs. While this is important, it’s not the place to start.

Define your outcomes first

As with strategic planning, you need to start with your future outcomes. That way the actions you take are designed to help you achieve those outcomes. Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Using the Agile Decision Making Framework, start with Phase A, answering the question, Where do we want to be?  What do you want to accomplish through social media marketing? They should support the higher level outcomes of your organization’s overall strategic plan. Once you’ve determined which social media outcomes can help support those, you can begin to focus on your ideal customers and their needs. In the process, you’ll need to also identify which social media platforms they use the most so you focus your efforts there when you’re ready to take action.

Once you’ve completed Phase A, move on the Phase E. This will help you identify the future external factors that could have an impact on the actions you take today.  These become your future Opportunities and / or Threats that you need to consider so you’re prepared to respond should any of them occur. Why look at the external environment you ask? Because your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. What happens locally and even globally can have profound effects on your customers, their needs, and their desires for your products and services.

With social media, you have to continually be tracking these future trends because new platforms emerge and popular ones lose favor. You don’t want to be stuck on an island by stuck on an islandyourself after your customers have moved over to another platform. If you don’t periodically focus on Phase E, you could be missing the boat!

Once you’ve reviewed Phases A and E, you can move on to Phase B. This is where you identify the specific targets you want to reach and track through social media, answering the question, How will we know when we get there?

These may include the number of click throughs on your links, or a specific increase in customer engagement on your Facebook page, or a percentage increase in website traffic and/or subscribers to your email list. The more specific, the better, so you can track your efforts and see what progress you’re making.

Phase C comes next, answering the question, Where are we today?  The first three phases were focused on your future outcomes, your ideal customer’s needs, external trends, and specific goals. This phase looks at your current situation. What are your Strengths and Weaknesses related to social media? Are you just starting? Do you have a strong team working in this area? Do you need to hire a consultant to help? How well do you know the various platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.? How well versed are you with Google Analytics and Google Adwords? Those are the kinds of skill sets you want to list under your Strengths and Weaknesses. You should also fill out the Opportunities and Threats areas, which came from the external scan you did in Phase E.

By now, you should begin to see some major themes evolving. These become your high level strategies which you list under Phase D, answering the question, How will we get there? These are the specific actions you need to implement to close the gap between your current situation and your future outcomes. Some high level strategies might be training, hiring external talent, creating a social media policy, and customer engagement. Under each strategy will be specific actions you need to take, such as finding online training webinars, advertising for talent, researching social media policies you might adapt to your organization, and creating a content calendar.

Using the Agile Decision Making Framework makes the process of creating your social media plan fairly simple and fast. The next step is to write it up and share it with your team. Then start to implement it!

Planning without action is just dreaming.

Social Media Apps Make Sharing Easy

Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Many social media apps exist to make content sharing easy.  Choose the right ones for you to stay connected with your audience and enhance customer engagement with your brand.

Are you using any of the smart phone apps to post while on the go? There probably are hundreds but you don’t need them all – Just the ones that make it easy to post, share and engage with your audience when the inspiration strikes.

Social media apps make sharing easyObviously, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+ have their own. So do Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare, which now switches you over to their new app, Swarm, for social location sharing.

Then there’s Instagram, which Facebook owns, to make it easy to snap photos and videos and share with your friends. And Twitter has Vine which makes it easy to record and share short videos. Snapchat and Whatsapp are two popular apps for instant messaging with friends.

Beyond these are others which make it easy to share from your smart phone across multiple social sites. These are some of my favorites:

Pulse – now owned by LinkedIn, the app on your phone makes it possible to customize just the news sources you want, browse current stories and trends, and share them across multiple sites.

Bitly – primarily a url shortener, it also lets you connect a variety of social profiles to share your shortened links. Set up your account from your desktop, connecting your social profiles. Then download the app to your smartphone so you can share those shortened links while on the go.

Buffer – This is an app which installs in your browser enabling you to share content as you’re visiting various sites online. You can either share instantly or use Buffer’s robust algorithms to choose the right time to share on the various social sites you’ve connected. Buffer lets you connect two sites for free.

Hootsuite – useful on desktop computers, this app connects up to five of your social profiles for free letting you schedule messages for times you choose. You can share, comment, message, and interact on all those sites just using the one app. No need to visit each social profile to see what’s trending. It all shows up within Hootsuite, and it uses its own ow.ly url shortener.

LinkedIn Connected – have you seen this app? It makes it easy to stay in touch with your connections, congratulate them on recent job anniversaries or new promotions, send them messages, etc.

What are some of your favorite apps for social sharing and customer engagement on the go?

Pinterest: Like Virtual Window Shopping

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International   4-28-2012

Takeaways: Pinterest is equivalent to virtual window shopping. It’s the fastest-growing social media site on the web, driving more traffic than Facebook and YouTube combined.

A quote by Industrial designer Paavani Bishnoi in the article, Why Women are Pinterested, Daily News & Analysis, caught my attention: “I no longer feel like logging in to Facebook when I am bored. I do not want to know what others are doing this minute. Twitter is all about giving an opinion. Pinterest, on the other hand, is relaxing. It’s just about sharing good stuff. It’s like window shopping on the laptop.”

One of My PinboardsFor those unfamiliar with Pinterest, it’s the hottest new social sharing site on the internet allowing you to create virtual boards of pictures and videos around a particular theme.

My pinboards are eclectic because I have many interests – from gluten free cooking to personal growth and development, to art and spirituality.

Pinterest Users are Mostly women

Studies show that 80% of Pinterest users in the US are women between the ages of 25 and 54 (30% are between 25 and 34 years of age). Perhaps that’s because women tend to be more visual than men and are accustomed to creating “vision boards” of pictures and magazine clippings around a theme. 

Hubspot’s April 13, 2012 blog puts Pinterest as the 3rd most popular social networking site in the US in terms of traffic. As of February this year, the site had accumulated more than 10.4 million unique users.

Personally, I think it depends on what one “pins” to their virtual boards. I see more and more men re-pinning my pins and following me – so it definitely depends on the contents you’re sharing. Women may have started the trend, but I see men and businesses catching on quickly to this new traffic-generating site.

The latest statistics I’ve seen say that Pinterest is driving more traffic to websites than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. That’s huge!

There are no restrictions that prevent a business from putting up a corporate Pinterest site with pinboards of their products. The advantage is that you can not only display pictures of your products, you can create short how-to videos that demonstrate how to use them, put them together, etc., and a price. When you put a price in the caption, Pinterest slaps it diagonally across the upper left corner. It’s attention-getting. Add a link to your website or shopping cart, and you can generate sales right from Pinterest.

My prediction is that entrepreneurs have the rest of 2012 to take advantage of this before the big guns get on board. Afer that, we’ll see more and more corporate Pinterest sites using this to create revenue streams, advertise their products and drive traffic to their websites. And much of that will be driven by men, since men still occupy the bulk of the C-Suite offices.

So make rain while you can, ladies! Let’s have some fun with this and generate income, too!