It goes without saying that social media is a huge part of our lives and has been for a long time – for both consumers and businesses alike. As such, platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook can easily serve as one of the most crucial aspects of your company’s overall IMC plan. How, you might be asking?
We can tell you!
What is an IMC Plan?
IMC stands for Integrative Marketing Communications, and these plans are used by businesses to create clear, consistent, and cohesive promotional strategies. This is done by coordinating all aspects of the promotional mix – public relations, sales promotions, personal selling, and advertising. Direct marketing and social media/internet marketing are also considered core elements of this mix.
Since marketing communications are used to create positive brand associations, it’s reasonable to say that coordinating channels in this way can make those associations even stronger.
An IMC plan requires extensive planning and strategy, as it is made up of a large number of objectives, both big and small. You might have a set of broad objectives for the entire IMC plan to fulfil, but breaking it down even further, each tool you’re using would have its own smaller objective, too – as would all the individual elements of that tool!
What can social media bring to an IMC plan?
One of the key objectives of an IMC plan is to build awareness and attention by creating strong customer relationships and encouraging customer responses. This is important because, as a communications tool, social media is among the more flexible options in a marketer’s toolbox. It provides a method of direct, two-way interaction between businesses and customers and lets you make quick, smooth adjustments to your ads, segment your audience more effectively, and more acutely target those segments. Thus, the things you share with your audiences will feel more personal, authentic, and engaging to them.
In addition, market research is made much easier since you can see trends, users’ opinions, interests, and more in real time and conduct that research a lot more swiftly. It certainly doesn’t hurt that so many people use at least one social media platform these days, because it means you have a lot more potential data available to pull from. The information you gather here can be highly valuable to optimizing your other channels as well, since your audience may very well be discussing those!
How can social media be coordinated with other channels?
As wonderful as social media is, we of course can’t forget about the other channels in our promotional mix!
Because each channel will have a different IMC objective attached to it – whether it be raising awareness by X percent, reaching a specific number of conversions, etc. – it’s a good idea to utilize both direct and nonpersonal channels and coordinate your social media efforts with both.
For example, with channels like billboards and TV ads, the broad objective might be to build a certain level of awareness of not just the product itself, but also your company’s website. This could then drive traffic to the site, where viewers might see brand information that piques their interest, fulfilling a completely separate objective. Not only that, but they would also see any links you have to your social media accounts, which may encourage further engagement with your brand.
Engagement would, in fact, be an ideal objective to strive for there, especially since it can help mitigate the lack of feedback that normally comes from nonpersonal channels. This type of cross-promotional effort also increases brand recognition and recall among your audience. Seeing something your company shared on Instagram, then coming across the very same content in a magazine or article might make your customer go, “Hey, wait – I remember that!”
This works the other way around, too. For instance, let’s say you release a new ad on TV or in a magazine – you can then create a post encouraging feedback on that ad or on the product in it. Upon recognizing it, they may be even more motivated to further engage with you if the content has piqued their interest. You can even take this strategy a step further by including a QR code for your page and a call to action right in the magazine ad!
PR is another area in which social media has value because, as a communication channel, it’s all about strategically distributing information to manage your company or brand image. Since you can see so much data In real time on social media, including the things being said about you and your company, this helps you ensure the desired image is being properly conveyed and if it isn’t, you can adjust your PR strategy in a timely manner.
Here’s a more detailed example of how to coordinate all your channels. Suppose your primary objective is to increase customer loyalty among a particular segment. Moreover, you choose social media and email marketing to be two of your main channels for this along with your own website. Since you need to obtain customers’ email addresses to communicate with them that way, you can create posts on social media that contain a call to action like, “if you want to learn more about what we can offer you and be a part of our rewards program, feel free to share your email with us!”
You can compile your email address list through other methods alongside your posts, perhaps having people create accounts on your website or, when placing an order, clicking a checkbox indicating they would like to receive emails from you. Once you have the emails, you can then send your existing customers rewards they receive as part of your customer loyalty program, follow up with them on orders they place to ensure everything is correct and going smoothly, and inform them about other ways you can meet their needs in the future. You can even encourage them to leave feedback on your social media platforms if you wish, linking the two channels even more.
If you need help with the social media aspects of your IMC plan, or want to know more about coordinating them with your other channels, AIM social is here for you. Click here to fill out an application form and learn more about hiring us.