Always On: 4 ways I connect social and business strategy, with prAna’s Brittany Sheppard
Before Social Media Lead Brittany Sheppard joined the team at prAna, the brand hadn’t invested much in the way of its social presence.
“When I think of the state of social before I got to prAna, I very much think of the wild, wild West,” Brittany said. There weren’t established processes or a structure in place, which meant there wasn’t a lot of visibility into what other functions of the broader team were publishing. Not to mention, she was a team of one.
In her time with the company, she’s been able to give social a voice in the wider organization by creating her own path for visibility and alignment with the great objectives of the company. Here are four ways prAna’s Social Media Lead aligns her social strategy to overall business goals every day.
1. Share your editorial calendar
When Brittany first joined prAna, she consolidated information from various channels to create the company’s first content calendar, which covers their social, web content, email, catalog and more. It has become an every day, microscopic view of all upcoming content.
Organizing all the stories the brand was telling, from customer adventures to product news, into a calendar allowed prAna to create a sense of consistency across every channel. And that level of visibility pays off.
Her goal in creating and sharing a holistic editorial calendar was to boost awareness of prAna’s brand efforts. They did that and more—breaking down silos, creating consistency and ensuring they’re putting out the best quality content. With this kind of open collaboration, everyone is invested in social and social is ensured a seat at the table.
“My journey here at prAna has been to try to take the social media channel from a reactive state towards a proactive one,” Brittany said. Aligning with the organization’s goals has allowed social to step into higher-level conversations from go.
Data shows that more than half of C-level marketers (53%) say proving the value of social to teams outside of marketing remains a challenge. Like Brittany, they know they can impact different teams with the social data at their disposal, but they struggle to find ways to prove it. Brittany shares her calendar with marketing directors, the creative director and even the VP of marketing. Leadership always has insight into how every message prAna publishes aligns with the brand’s goals. And it opens up the floor for leadership to provide feedback.
Try this: Connect with other teams across your organization to inform your own content calendar. Schedule a recurring meeting that brings together a few minds from each department. Creating an ongoing discussion will ensure that teams understand your social priorities, see how your work intersects with their goals and find connections and opportunities across both of your initiatives.
2. Build social goals around business goals
Throughout the year, prAna has checkpoints to ensure they’re always executing the right tasks and hitting the right milestones to achieve established goals.
One of the brand’s biggest business goals this past year was to better connect with their audiences. Brittany took inspiration from one of prAna’s company rituals—a one-minute meditation every day—and created a social experience the entire organization as well as the brand’s audience could take part in, together, in real-time.
“The more we align our team goals with their company goals,” Brittany said, “the more our teammates are able to recognize the power of social media and see how we’re a force to connect with their audience.”
Using Instagram Live, Brittany and team aren’t only showing off part of their company culture, but they’re inviting their audience to join in with them. You see this commitment to their audience across each social platform, not only with interactive live content but with customer storytelling and contests that live up the brand’s slogan, “Clothing for positive change.”
Data shows that nearly 47% of social marketers, from interns to the C-suite, say that developing a strategy that supports their organization’s goals is their number one challenge. Brittany recognized an alignment between the brand values and the audience values that she could highlight through social. This ultimately elevated prAna’s strategies to serve larger business goals, which secured the social team’s seat at the business strategy table.
Try this: When your marketing department establishes its top-level goals, outline key tactics or initiatives that your team can pursue to support that goal. Give each team member a focus to execute on those key points, and share your plan with key stakeholders. This is an opportunity for them to understand, validate and challenge your approach to ensure you’re setting social and the broader team up for success.
3. Make social visible
It’s vital to Brittany to get eyes on her team’s social efforts.
“So many times I’ve heard people say, ‘Wow, I had no idea you guys are filming a series, or I had no idea you did that photo shoot,’” Brittany said. Showcasing prAna’s social efforts creates bigger conversation and an opportunity for other functions across the organization to say, ‘What can we do on social media? How can we make our story better? Or how can we further tell the idea of this product?’
Every Thursday, prAna has a WIP (Work In Progress) meeting where a majority of the marketing and creative departments highlight work they’ve created for specific requests: everything from email creative to a new sign for their retail store.
When Brittany first started, social was not involved in WIP meetings. So she stepped forward to fill that open space and share what her team was working on.
“This really allowed people to see how we were connecting social media back to the brand,” Brittany said. She emphasizes that the value of attending can even extend beyond sharing, as she finds even greater educational moments to share how something can be executed on social. Brittany shares social content in progress and even demos how the content will look live on social by sharing posts and Stories from a test account.
Try this: Take the time to figure out where content is coming from across your organization. Then approach those key stakeholders and/or one or two of the key leaders for that channel to connect with. Ask if you can be a part of meetings and explain how you want to further align on what they’re executing.
4. Educate to inspire
Reporting is important for Brittany. It gives her an overall pulse check on how her efforts are performing across social, and more importantly, an informative look into prAna’s overall brand health.
Every Friday, Brittany’s team looks at the past week of content and go over what’s working, what hasn’t and how they can improve. And it’s their agility that helps them make small but impactful adjustments along the way. To Brittany, this is why reporting, and sharing those results, is so important. It’s real-time feedback from their audience that tells the story of how prAna is achieving team and company goals.
She’ll share a look into what content is resonating with customers through engagement posts or even sentiment analysis, then even providing anecdotal feedback or data to the other departments to inform where each function can utilize the results. Whether it’s about design or an opportunity for web—they can react or implement immediately. Through the social data, they’re able to see that prAna’s audience is telling them what they want to see. Not just the clothing and how it fits, but how they want the brand’s manufacturing processes to improve to help the plant, or with the materials they want to see used. Brittany plugs that into other departments outside of marketing as a clear way to lead brand evolution with social.
Try this: Show that data has the power to impact all by establishing a monthly performance meeting. Invite different department members to sit in and share the happenings of each channel—what’s working? What challenges are each of us facing? What needs do we have to address?—and showcase social data that informs their goals.
How will you connect your social and business strategy?
Because of her thorough and collaborative approach to social strategy, Brittany and her team are confident that every day they’re doing their due diligence to stay on-trend, nurture customer relationships and build prAna’s brand. We hope that these tips will help you feel the same.
Are you planning to try any? Share with us on social or in the comments below.
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