Thursday, December 3, 2009

MEDIAPOST: In 2010, Develop Your WTF Strategy

Have you developed your core WTF strategy?

Your WTF strategy refers to “Website, Twitter Facebook” (what did you think I was talking about). These three components are the new hub for customer and audience interaction.

As an individual, who writes a lot about our business, I have to manage my website, my Twitter feed and my Facebook page proactively to ensure that I am distributing my messages properly. As a brand you have to manage the same components but with different objectives in place. For me as an individual, it’s a means of encouraging people to follow me so that I can amass a larger audience of readers for my Mediapost column (ten years and running now). For a brand it’s about creating a web of customer interaction that results in driving trial, sales or simply driving traffic to your site. For a publisher it’s a means of tapping into that wider audience whom you can monetize across multiple platforms, even expanding into print and other media.

The WTF strategy is a proactive plan for managing your outreach and managing your interaction with your target audience in multiple locations. It used to be that your website was the core of your target interaction, but that is no longer the case as we expand the role that social media plays and continue down the path towards a more distributed architecture for the web. These days you can choose to follow a brand via email registrations, but if you only offer email then you miss a number of opportunities. Brands expand into social media routinely, but in many cases they forget to tie all of these components together and create a unified editorial strategy. If you tackle this from an unorganized point of view, then you create inefficiencies and you create situations where you open yourself up to make mistakes.

Of course some people will look at this idea as elementary, but that’s the exact reason it gets overlooked daily. I can name on two hands the number of brands that are doing a good job of translating messaging across all of their consumer platforms; online and offline and within online, from their website to their social media presence and beyond. The problem is that feeling of ownership. The website can be moderated much more easily than a Facebook page and a Twitter feed can be shared and spread virally much easier than either of the previously mentioned components. Once items can be shared and commented on, brand managers lose faith. They lose faith in the very consumers that are engaging with the product, which if you break it down is actually a very sad statement. By losing faith you are basically saying that your consumers are smart enough to buy your product, but you don’t believe they are going to like it and speak positively about it.

It’s that final statement that creates the irony of the WTF strategy. If you are proactive and you create a strategy that allows you to make proper use of your Website, Twitter and Facebook then you should be able to stay on top of and manage the kinds of situations that might actually make you scream “WTF”.

Proactive strategy development is what most brands are lacking, especially in the area of social engagement. It’s too easy to look somewhere else and focus your attention on other aspects of your day then it is to tackle something entirely new. It’s analogous to the ostrich that sticks their head in the sand whenever it gets scared. The ostrich does not exactly represent the highest end of the evolutionary food chain and neither do you when you act that way.

Don’t be afraid to sit down and tackle an area that you may not be comfortable with. I think when you get down to the brass tacks of the issue you’ll see that the underlying strategy is no different than the rest of your media strategy. The tactics might require some expertise, but the strategy is going to feel far more familiar than you think.

Besides, wouldn’t you rather proactively create a WTF strategy than have to deal with the CYA of not having thought about it in advance? I would.

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