It's social marketing chaos right now, wouldn't you agree? From the variety of channels with which to engage, the number of folks engaging, and the issue of calculating ROI, marketers have a challenging role ensuring their brand is being represented positively and with high Net promoter scores.
To secure peace of mind that outbound posts are being written with approved content, marketers should consider developing a message map with a focus on external-facing customers. This will help improve consistent representation of the brand in all earned, owned and shared media. Marketers do complete internal messaging to develop mission, vision, values and more—but this stops short from targeting all audiences on the other side of a company's front door.
Why Do Message Maps?
Conduct a quick in-the-head audit of the numbers of employees and support teams touching the company's shared media channels like Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook. Then imagine who's responsible for content marketing for owned media like blogs, news releases, newsletters, and websites.
Calculating the extent, type and levels of engagement by anyone on your collective teams in any of the aforementioned channels is daunting. Even when the team is manageable, say five to 10 individuals, outbound content is fast and furious.
• Tweet six times a day
• Update the company Facebook status three times a day
• Post to LinkedIn groups twice daily
• Update Google+ once a day
This could add up to a whopping 60+ social media interactions per day in your brand's name. What are they all saying? And who is monitoring content creation and delivery?
The message map has roots in media relations by public relations practitioners. Taking a similar approach to marketing's messaging exercise, the PR approach goes further in the exploration of a company's history, background on the founders, results over time, product successes and value-adds, differentiators and competition.
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Benefits of Message Mapping
The message map benefits all marketing teams throughout a company:
• Website copywriters appreciate the detail provided as a reference tool packaged in one document.
• PR uses the map to garner earned media and train company spokespeople to use the same approved messages every time.
• Storytellers use approved language to write features about products and people.
• Sales teams morph the map (with help from marketing) into messages that support the sales process among prospects and existing customers.
• Training departments can use the map as an educational tool for new employees.
• Social marketing teams put these maps on the desk in hard copy to glean company descriptors, sound bites and approved content prior to dispersing a tweet or Facebook post.
Tips on How to Develop Message Maps
Conduct a message mapping session with company leadership. It doesn't matter how large your business is, gather leadership together and ask the basic six Ws:
• What is (Acme Widgets)?
• Which services and products do we offer?
• Why should anyone buy/hire us?
• Who are the audiences we target?
• When will the innovation pipeline provide new products?
• Where should we focus sales efforts?
Then, bucketthe content into associated themes and categories, and simplify your company's story into sound bites and simply stated descriptions.
Map these messages into a PowerPoint with bubbles, boxes, arrows and back-and-forth movement from broad-to-detailed messages. Train leaders, spokespeople, sales teams, marketers, and others how to use this company-approved message map when engaging in shared media, garnering earned media, or developing content for owned media.
A message mapping exercise can be done at any point in the life of a company. Once complete, refresh the core messaging platform annually and re-issue approved language for everyone in the company engaging with customers in any way, shape or form.
Jayme Soulati (http://www.twitter.com/soulati) is the principal of Soulati Media Inc.