Social Media in an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy

In recent years I’ve watched companies race to have a social media presence.

In many cases, though, this presence does not achieve meaningful results, because it is not part of a broader strategy of integrated marketing communications; in other words, companies have a social media presence merely because it’s “the thing to do.” They know neither what they want, nor why they want it, let alone the audience they want to reach, in what form, and with what message.

In this issue of Management Tips we will talk about the role of integrated marketing communications, and how a social media strategy should be embedded in the broader communications strategy.

According to Philip Kotler, the concept of integrated communications includes analysis of the strategic functions of communications activities, as well as their integration, aligning efforts to make the message concise and uniform. Each company must coordinate and guide its communications channels with the aim of disseminating a unique message that is coherent and reinforces the company’s position.

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), integrated marketing communications is a “planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.”

Integrated marketing communications aims to unify the company’s communications to ensure that the essence of the message is the same, regardless of the format of the content, or the channels chosen.

Virtual networks and social media are now a reality all over the world. More and more companies work every day to maintain their presence in such networks, using them as marketing communications tools. However, how to (best) use these relatively new channels is still debated by area specialists.

The need to establish integrated communications strategies in the virtual world and on social media — and to manage this communication well – is growing.

One factor that needs to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to have a presence in social media is the customer. Customers themselves define the need for finding companies and their products and services in the media.

Thus, it is important to understand the needs and desires of customers, the functioning of social media, and a specific transformation associated with latter, namely the changing of consumer focus and attention. In the past, business communication focused on print and television media, as it was on these platforms that consumer attention was concentrated.

Once you gain an understanding of these, it is important to plan for your presence.

For this, it is important that the goals and strategy of communications in social media include:

  • identification of target audience
  • clear definition of communications objectives
  • message development
  • selection of the media that will be used
  • definition of the budget set aside for your social media presence
  • definition of the communications mix (advertising, publicity, public relations)
  • measurement of social media results, and
  • management of communications actions in social media.

Planning for a social media presence is an important step in planning integrated marketing communications to manage business communications and digital marketing, and companies must include it as such. Each of these forms of communication plays an important role in the use of social media as a communication tool.

Digital marketing campaigns and sponsored links on social network and social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, and search engines like Google, are fundamental in marketing strategies, particularly those covering communications.

It is possible to develop effective business communications planning in social media in order to help the company interact in a contemporary way, and reach even more visibility, with the general public, its customers and employees. All of this improves the positioning and image of the company, its brands, and its products / services.

Companies can no longer neglect these new tools and their benefits, but their utilization must begin with the implementation and monitoring of well-designed communications plan.

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