* This is a partial reprint of Liana Li Evans’ previously published ClickZ article
Before you decide to implement any tactic in social media, the first question you should ask is “Why?” Why should I have a Facebook page? Why should I have a Twitter account? Too many times I’ve run into companies asking why their social media strategy failed and when I ask these companies why they implemented a particular tactic, inevitably one of the answers I hear is “Because our agency said they could do that.” I then ask the person seeking advice if the agency explained why they should implement the tactic and very rarely do I hear “Because they found our audience was there.”
Research is the foundation to any social media or integrated marketing strategy. You have to understand and know where the conversations are going on, what are the trends, who are the influencers, and who are the evangelists before you start engaging in social media. If you set off engaging, it is a lot like walking blindly into a burning building. Businesses can encounter a lot of “dangers” that they might not be prepared for.
Research however goes beyond just “keyword research” using the Google AdWords tool and discovering seasonal trends. People in social media communities share and speak differently than how they search. More jargon and slang is used in these communities because they are more comfortable. You must understand that keyword research with your SEO or PPC set of words is just the beginning. There’s a lot more to be done if you’re going to discover key insights to make your social media strategy successful.