I was traveling this week so I didn't get to post this week&39;s Social Media Insider until now. The column appears after the embedded Playbook, which you can freely download and share.
360i Social Marketing Playbook
One of the best lessons you can learn while engaging with social
media is that you can never plan too early, as it&39;s hard to tell when you&39;ll
really reap the fruits of your labor. If you&39;re actively building a brand
through social media and you&39;re doing it right, you will be incredibly grateful
down the road.
I&39;ll share an example of this from a company I rarely talk about
here directly — my agency, 360i. It&39;s where I&39;ve worked as Director of
Emerging Media (or related roles) for over three years, so I&39;ve been able to
witness the agency&39;s evolution firsthand. Earlier this month we released our
Marketing Playbook, a freely available 56-page guide for marketers on
developing and executing social marketing programs.
I wasn&39;t the lead on managing this project, nor the lead on
marketing it; this was a collaborative effort by a dedicated group in our
social media and creative practices. Admittedly, the interest in it was greater
than expected, as it reached 10,000 downloads within a few days of its launch,
and it continues to be a draw. As a marketer, it&39;s easy to look at the end
result and say  there was a great marketing push for it, while others
might chalk it up to luck; there are countless other ways to interpret what
happened. The most important work we did, though, was in the months and even
years before it came out. Self-serving as the story may be, I hope it&39;s at
least a good reminder for the value of planning ahead with social channels.
Distributing the Playbook relied on two efforts where agencies are
notoriously weak: marketing themselves, and using the tools they&39;re promoting
to their clients. For 360i, this meant building out a blog and a Facebook
presence in 2008, and joining Twitter in early 2009. With Twitter, we weren&39;t
the first agency to join, and there are many others using it well. By the time
we did it, though, we had evaluated it through our own strategic lens (a
concept explained in detail in the Playbook) and answered these four critical
1.&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160; Could we use it to meet our
2.&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160; Could it leverage our
arsenal of assets?
3.&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160; Could we use it to abide by
the social media rules of the road?
4.&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160;&0160; Could it provide a
significant value exchange?
Twitter, the blog, Facebook, and other channels like Slideshare,
Scribd, Flickr, and LinkedIn all met those criteria. There was a fifth
criterion that also had to be answered for all of them: Did we have the
resources to use them effectively? I&39;ll spare an impossibly objective or
unbearably vainglorious analysis of how we did, but all of this was working at
least well enough before the Playbook was written. There was also a clear
architecture for it, with the blog as a hub, and all of the spokes, including
our corporate site, relating coherently to the hub and to each other.
Twitter proved to be especially important for the Playbook&39;s
release, with the blog as the hub for much of the linking. We had our own
#version of brand ambassadors, myself included, who helped get the word out.
Scribd, the document-sharing site, was a useful tool, one that Guy
Kawasaki chose to tweet. A digital word-of-mouth program helped inform some
influential bloggers, tweeters, and executives, though almost all of those
relationships were established well before the Playbook was planned.
At Jeff Pulver&39;s 140
Characters Conference last week, someone in the audience asked the panel I
was on what we&39;d advise a brand like Domino&39;s Pizza, which endured a brief but
viral brand hijack by a couple of its own employees. I responded that brands
need to establish open communication channels as early as possible so that
they&39;re ready to use when a major event happens, whether it&39;s a promotion or a
crisis. While relatively few brands will go through crises that make headline
news, almost all brands — even agencies&39; brands, as I&39;ve learned — can
benefit from building up a presence well in advance of when it&39;s needed.