You are likely in the throes of determining your 2010 marketing plans and budgets. How should you budget for social media? We’ve been asked this a few times and thought we’d give you some guidelines (of course we have ulterior motives because we want you to have a budget for Comprendia’s services, but as long as we’re clear on that ;). Here are some guidelines for budgeting for social media in your life science marketing plans. Social media takes time to cultivate, and there is every indication that customers now expect to be engaged with these tools, so why not get started now? Here are the items we think you should consider adding, increasing, or adjusting in your 2010 budget:
- Web 2.0 Upgrades. We’ve written about life science companies and social media, and many of you are just getting started in this area. One of the first steps is to move towards a more dynamic, engaging website. What does this mean? Think about websites like Amazon.com and Facebook, which give users a customized experience when they visit your site. Invitrogen now has user ratings for products, similar to Amazon. Don’t think that you have to jump in with both feet, however, and build something too fancy. You can start with simpler things like polls, resources, or news feeds which will help your customers feel engaged. Adding a blog or forum is likely more easy than you think, ask us or your web team about the budget for these types of upgrades.
- Training. From strategies, to etiquette, to tactics, this should be a significant consideration for your budget. A social media strategy needs the participation of people inside of your company to succeed. For this to happen, everyone needs to be clear on the messaging and guidelines. There are infamous stories of missteps companies have made that have been devastating for them. Training on etiquette and procedure will prevent your campaign from going viral in a bad way. Make sure that you hire trainers who know your life science customers, as there are myriad social media ‘experts’ available who will likely provide general training which is already available in many forms on the internet.
- Content. A good social media strategy requires producing more content than you may be used to. For example, newsletters that adhere to the tenets of social media aren’t simply lists of new products, but are more rich resources which help customers with their broader needs. More time will need to be budgeted to create this content. By being creative, and assigning someone who will be the social media champion for your organization, you can likely find content that you can repurpose, which may save some time.
- Redistribution of Existing Budgets. Have you noticed that banner Ads and email blasts just don’t have the impact they used to? You may want to consider turning some print and online advertising into social media campaigns. This budget shift may mean shifting paid-for services such as Ads into additions to headcount to create strategies and content. Of course, outsourcing is a good way to get started.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Other Search-based Advertising. A big part of moving away from ‘broadcast’ advertising is to help people to find you, or pull them in, rather than ‘pushing’ your information to large groups of people who don’t necessarily want it. You’ll need to make changes to your website content to help search engines find you as well as invest (more) in paid search advertising like Google Adwords. As with most other areas of social media, you’ll obtain useful information from these tools, as you’ll be able to see what people are searching for and adjust your product offering accordingly.
- Outside Consultants. OK, you knew this was coming. While social media will likely ultimately rely upon your existing staff, you’ll need help developing a Social Media Charter™, with training, and with content. Social media likely requires a change in mindset for your organization. Comprendia is the only company that is integrated with the life scientist social media community, and we will use our knowledge and vast network to help you to hit the ground running. If you feel as though you’re a ‘lone voice’ in your organization, trying to get traction for social media, we can help as well, as we have talking points that will help you communicate the importance to your upper management.
How much should you budget for these items? We can help you with a free consultation and also give a short presentation which will help you to ‘sell’ social media to your organization, if needed. We have great examples specific to life science and biotechnology that will make social media tangible to your staff and also inspire them to be creative and participate. We also have the resources to successfully implement your plans in 2010, helping you to increasingly engage your customers and provide the resources and products they need.
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