Whenever I see a divide between a social media team and other teams, it is either because of a lack of alignment on the brand or a misunderstanding on the role of the social media team.

It is the latter I want to address today, and to put it simply: social media is a triathlon. It covers three different races, each one being technical and difficult enough to be a challenge of its own. For your social media strategy and your team to work well, everyone needs to understand that.

The first race is like swimming for 5 kilometers. You are immersed with your audience to answer your clients feedbacks, mostly negative. You stay cheerful though, to engage your fans/ followers/ stalkers with friendly, funny, posts or videos. It is about protecting your share of voice, making sure your posts keep your profile way above the good reputation floatation line. Social media is still young, with new platforms, new memes, new tricks arriving all the time. Any mistake can be fatal, the fear of drowning becomes the fear of missing out.

Social Media is about protecting your share of voice, making sure your posts keep your profile way above the good reputation flotation line.

The Second Race

2nd race in Traithlon
Advancing in the Triathlon

The second race is a marathon. You are on foot, like a door to door salesperson. And like in any market, you are not alone out there, competing against competitors or random strangers from other industries for the attention of an ever scrolling audience. But the effort is worth it, the targeting is amazing and you only pay if your ad is clicked, so the risk is minimum as long as you can track what happens after that click.

When you have engaged with your audience and recruited new clients you may think you are done, but there is one final race. In a real triathlon, the last race is seated… on a bike… for a 100 kilometer ride.

You may also like to read: Only 13% of companies are investing in social media

Because the last part of the social media triathlon is neither about solving a problem nor bringing a direct stream of revenue, it is often forgotten. Social media marketers are in direct contact with the audience: they listen, talk and have access to a wealth of information on what the company audiences like/dislike about their products or about life in general. They deal with a ton of incoming insights. To help them, they have access to a new breed of marketing tools with Artificial Intelligence in their DNA. With those audience insights the social media team should create client personas, identify opportunities for new products, for partnerships and ideas for new marketing programs. Like the spinning wheel of the bike, the end of a campaign becomes the start of another one.

The social media triathlon is a fantastic opportunity for community managers to grow into more general marketers and for marketers to get their hands dirty with social media. And remember: athletes need coaching, goals and encouragement to go above and beyond.

JC was one of our most popular speakers at Savage Marketing 2017 with key insights into customer behaviour, buying trends and retention models. He is scheduled to join us again in 2018 as a trusted adviser and thought leader. Be sure to get your tickets to Savage Marketing 2018 and discuss strategies, trends and practices with speakers from BBC, BMW, Unilever, Trivago and over 60 of the most innovative brands.

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