Social media marketing is a game every organization wants to win. Publishers are beginning to emerge as front runners in this space, primarily because publishing businesses have access to a vast network of content creators and thought leaders- every social marketers dream! All the biggest winners in social marketing share the same principle: organize for social media according to a shared company strategy. A Forrester report revealed that most of the top gainers use the “Hub and Spoke” model for their social marketing plan:
Don’t worry if “Hub and Spoke” doesn’t sound familiar. You’ve probably seen a lot of companies implementing it already. The model is deceptively simple but, when executed well, it can turn your team into social media marketing stars.
The Nuts and Bolts of the Hub and Spoke Model
Imagine a bicycle wheel. There’s a hub found at the center of it, and there are a number of spokes, which connect the hub to the wheel’s circular border or rim.
Applying this model to social media marketing, the ‘Hub’ and the ‘Spoke’ refer to the two important elements of a company’s social media staffing and content creation strategy. The Hub, commonly referred to as the organization’s social media marketing committee, is where strategic decisions come from. Think of it as a cross-functional group made up of different departments. The Hub is typically led by members of the marketing team.
Although the Hub is composed of a variety of members, not everyone in the organization is part of this special committee. Members of the “Hub” should possess advanced social media marketing skills, and be able to give input on a strategic level. They must be efficient collaborators who can gather vital information from their respective departments and relay it to the Hub. Given enough data, this group is then able to set social media marketing goals and measurement criteria for every department.
Activity flows from the Hub to several ‘Spokes’, commonly referred to as ‘social champions.’ The Hub decides what actions need to be taken, and what areas need growth, while “Spokes” are typically experts in their respective content areas, and often have a natural social following because of their expertise. To identify ‘Spokes’ within your organization, think about staff resources (outside your marketing team) that could easily contribute to content-driven conversations, lend insight in their industry, or already have a natural following or ‘name’ made for themselves. Consider authors, editors, product developers, CEOs, and even your top sales people. Leveraging the expertise of these people can give your social campaigns scale, and flow naturally into existing social groups. Unlike other models with a standalone group responsible for social media marketing (usually a central marketing team), the Hub and Spoke model makes everyone part of the social marketing marketing plan.
How Publishers Implement the Hub and Spoke Model For Social Marketing
Is Twitter the job of your editors and authors? It’s no secret that employees who are active in using their social media accounts not only promote their own written work, but also work form their colleagues. These efforts are usually coordinated, and can contribute significantly to website traffic for online content producers.
Some publishing companies are already leveraging their content experts in generating social media buzz. Business Insider staff, for instance, takes tweeting seriously. Nearly two-thirds of employees’ tweets contain links to the their publications. The blog network Gawker Media is also known for tapping its content producers and active communities to drive more traffic and social media buzz. Writers for these publications develop their own social fan-base, and help keep their employer’s readership consistent.
It’s obvious why the company encourages its staff to act as brand ambassadors. Those with a lot of followers and friends are bringing more value simply by sharing links and engaging with readers. Most of their writers and editors are not only content experts, they are also actively engaging their audience to boost their social media clout.
Use your team of passionate experts, and turn them into social media gold.
Training Staff in Social Media Marketing Best Practices
Successfully implementing the Hub and Spoke model starts with clear and sound policies. You need a plan that reflects what the model is all about: collaboration. Telling your content experts that they are part of your social media marketing strategy is just the beginning. Train them to avoid social media disasters. Some companies bulletproof their social media marketing plan by conducting a formal social media literacy program. You may want to take this route if you’re dealing with non-tech-savvy staffers. Let them pick the social platform they’re most comfortable with. Is it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus? Guide them in setting up their basic profiles based on your company standards, and introduce them to social media best practices. Most importantly, empower them in sharing content and engaging with other users by showing them how valuable their social activities are to the company.
Another important step is to identify the socially savvy in your organization and make sure they’re motivated to achieve departmental or organization-wide social media marketing goals.
Success in social media marketing is 80% strategy and 20% technology. And you can’t fake engagement if you want your social media strategy to work. It’s all about relationships, not social platforms. You must understand your audience, and reach out to them in a genuine way.