A Simple Approach to Social Media Strategy


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One question I’m always asked is how to explain what social media strategy and participation looks like so senior executives can (at least) contextualise what this all means.

A simple approach that I’ve found has worked in the past is to take an actual business or (even better) an incident or event in the Australian business market and then retrospectively examine how social media might have helped manage a situation or led to a different outcome. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

One such situation has been playing out over the past few months and relates to a Australian Federal Government scheme to insulate homes. The scheme ran into issues as unscrupulous contractors flooded into the market installing foil insulation without proper training or safety measures. The issue has blown up because people are dying, houses are burning down, and thousands of homes are now unsafe.

Enter Master Electricians

A leading industry body, Master Electricians was the first to raise the alarm and has been in the mainstream media trying to draw attention to the very serious problems of laying foil insulation over wiring and using metal tacks to hold it in place (amongst other issues).

The issue has blown up and become a national topic with mainstream media initially running the story along the safety issue angle. However, their focus has shifted from the problem and what to do to resolve it to one of ‘can we get the Minister sacked’. So for Master Electricians, the issue has gone off topic.


What can Master Electricians do to continue to communicate with their core communities and keep the focus on resolving the issue?

When I looked at this situation, I looked at what strategy would make sense. What tools make sense and how would I recommend or guide Master Electricians on their effective use

Most of us agree that, in simple terms, getting into the social space and building experience and capability involves:

  • Listen/monitor the debate
  • Have a footprint and contribute
  • Engage

Before we think about what tools might be useful, we need to consider at least:

  • Who are our core stakeholders and where are we likely to find them
  • Where do we need to position content
  • Who are the other key content generators and how do we engage with them
  • What search engine/key word considerations do we need to consider

With these initial questions in mind, I can see a need for Master Electricians to be using at least the following:

  • Social media monitoring
  • A blog or multiple blogs so as to talk to the technical and non-technical stakeholders
  • Social networking
  • Multi-media content
  • Micro-blogging – purely as a distribution mechanism

These tools can be used to deliver information out to the communities, encourage dialogue, and draw people back to the core Master Electricians site.

Let me drill into these 5 areas in more detail:

1. Social Media Monitoring

I view this as an early warning system for Master Electricians. Whilst tools like Google Alerts do a good job, in this situation, and given the industry leadership focus for Master Electricians, I would strongly recommend using a pro tool like Filtrbox.

The depth of information tools like Filtrbox provides is well worth the investment. Forget brand management or buzz measurement – these tools are strategic – the CEO Malcolm Richards and his leadership team should be looking at this data at least daily so as to keep their finger on the pulse of public and media discussion.

Social Media Monitoring becomes the strategic voice to guide most if not all of their engagement efforts.

2. Blog(s)

I’m surprised and somewhat disappointed that Master Electricians don’t have any blogs in place. From the data I’ve monitored CEO Richards was getting significant mainstream media coverage but this wasn’t backed up by any form of ongoing dialogue.

Over the course of this issue (say 6 to 9 months) Master Electricians could have (easily) published 80 to 100 posts on this issue. The value for the business in terms of profile and SEO links back to their site is immeasurable (this will be the subject of a follow up post including some thoughts from Australia’s leading digital marketer Tim Martin)

I’d take the idea of a blog even further and recommend they publish a blog for the general public and media, and a technical blog that is aimed at their members and technical people out in the field (i.e. electricians, builders, roofers etc).

3. Social Networking

I’m taking a really simple approach here. This is an emotional issue and would have many home owners, parents etc very worried and looking for a reliable, credible source of information. In my opinion, the most effective way to do this online is to have a Facebook presence and be actively using it through the integration of content and the advertising module.

4. Multi-Media Content

Video, video, and more video.

CEO Malcolm Richards knows this topic and is clearly a very strong media performer. He also projects empathy. I know a sound bite on the 6pm news is important but lasting value is delivered by having video content that is available on their core site and then distributed through Facebook, YouTube etc.

Again, I’d go further and produce some technical content to help their members – for example – video content that a young apprentice could access from his iPhone – pull up a YouTube video that has technical information that he and his boss can then watch on site!

5. Micro-Blogging

Twitter has a very important role to play here.

One thing I’ve noticed in Australia is the prolific use of Twitter by mainstream media. Again, it can be used to (a) engage the media and alert them to new content, and (b) engage the public and direct them to the Master Electricians site.


This is a quick run through of how Master Electricians could use the social channel to augment their traditional public/media engagement.

One way I like to represent this is as follows.

This is a simple model, but it shows the business how to focus on the core goal of bringing people into an engagement with Master Electricians.

On the outer ring, we’re using Google and Filtrbox to listen and develop an understanding of the discussion. This knowledge then guides the inner ring – how and what we contribute to the stakeholders through a blog, Facebook, and multi-media channels. The ultimate goal is to get users to the Master Electricians site.

In summary, this is a simple, high level overview of how social media could be used to augment a traditional approach to PR and marketing. It’s by no means comprehensive and a lot of work would need to be done to turn this into an actionable plan.

Mark Parker
Mark Parker is the founder of Smart Selling, and the specialist business unit – Smart Social Media. The core aim of both businesses is to help companies become better sales organisations by utilising the ideas, tools, and practices of Sales 2. and social media.



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