Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a process of planning, executing, and monitoring the brand messages that create customer relationships.  Like social networking, IMC is about managing day to day interactions with customers and prospects.  There is no beginning or end – it is continuous.  The six components of IMC include:

Brand
A brand is a perception resulting from experiences with, and information about, your company or your company’s products.  Brands live in the hearts and minds of customers, not on the side of a package.  Building brands is the overall objective of all marketing communications as well as all marketing activities.

Brand Messages    
Brand messages are  information and experiences that impact how customers and other stakeholders perceive your brand.

Marketing Communications (MC)
MC is the various type of planned messages used to build your brand.

Media
Media is the vehicle through which marketing communication are carried to and from target audiences .

Customer’s Brand Experiences
Each customer’s brand experience either strengthens or weakens the brand.  Strengthened experiences result in increased sales and profits.
 
Evaluating, Planning and Social Media 
Your organization  must continually monitor and evaluate the impact of brand messages on customers’  attitudes and responses and adjust the marketing communication plan accordingly.  What differentiates IMC from traditional advertising is that it is an ongoing process that continually impacts relationships with customers, prospects, and other stakeholders. 

Understanding these six components will help your organization successfully integrate social media into the IMC process.  As marketing moves from telling and selling to communication and sharing of knowledge, social media is the perfect platform to help your organization with this fundamental marketing shift.

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Chris Thompson, MBA, is a social recruiting strategist