Something that’s been on my mind lately is the number of questions I get about social media … specifically, how to build and execute an effective social media strategy.
I can definitely relate – social media is not “easy” and, like most initiatives, it takes time, resources and commitment to execute well.
I assume by now most businesses know or at least think there is value in social media, but when it comes to actually doing the work, running campaigns & measuring results things seem to fall apart.
I sincerely hope you’ve had tremendous success using social media to engage your market and grow your business. Regardless, at some point it may be well worth your time to take a step back and evaluate your strategy moving forward.
For this reason, I’ve created the Social Media Blueprint … take some time to explore this with your team. Let me know how it goes!
Social media is a long-term strategy and as such you need commitment within your organization to succeed. You need folks that have the initiative to actively engage users online and the perseverance required to consistently add value over time.
Do not take this lightly – companies that are not 100% committed will not succeed at social media … and the remains are not pretty.
As with any marketing initiative, it’s important to understand your goals or desired outcomes ahead of time so that everything you do around that campaign contributes to its overall success. Purpose provides meaning to the people you engage online, value to the content your share and life to the personality you bring to the table.
Spend a good hour with your team brainstorming why and how social media will help you achieve your goals and you’ll be off to a running start.
Obviously, because this is social media, people are a key ingredient. Identifying the right people internally and externally to target in your campaign can have dramatic impact on your success. You may want to engage key influencers in the market; maybe you want to include exiting customers or strategic partners in mix. Who internally will represent your brand online? Is this an individual or team effort and what role does each person play?
One of the most common questions you’ll ask yourself is “What do I say?” Some folks have no problem with this and share anything that crosses their mind. Others are more conservative and share very little. Both strategies are fine, as long as you’re adding value to the conversation.
It may be better to only share one, really amazing piece of content per day, rather than 20 comments that add nothing to the conversation. This will depend greatly on your purpose and personality.
Ideally, the majority of content you share should be content or information that you have created. A successful approach is to setup a blog or YouTube channel to produce this content and share it on your social media platform of choice.
Specifically, I recommend you share three types of content about …
- your company / products / services
- your community or industry at large
- yourself as a person or the people and customers that make up your business
This balanced approach positions your company as a complete entity in social media networks and allows people to engage with you on a business and personal level as a member of the community.
Finding your voice online is a process that may take some time. It’s most important to discuss personality upfront if you’re part of a team. You may be part of a larger organization that includes sales, marketing and customer support. What are the roles each of you will assume and how will you speak with and engage customers? Will you take a casual approach or more professional or rigid stance. Will you answer questions online directly or move conversations offline?
One piece of advice I’ll share is that people want to connect with people. This may seem obvious but many companies simply slap up a logo on most social media platforms and assume that people will feel comfortable or motivated to engage with them. In some cases this can work, if people know the person behind the logo or feel some personal connection with the brand itself, but in most cases it just doesn’t work.
Each social media platform has its own set of tools and native applications. Twitter.com allows you to setup an account, follow people, engage with users, retweet, and so. Facebook.com has a similar set of capabilities that are unique to its platform that provide all the functionality necessary to participate in the network.
It’s important to understand how the native applications operate to build confidence and competence with each network. It takes time depending or your aptitude and dedication, but is worth the effort prior to considering 3rd party applications to manage your social media.
After the initial honeymoon period, you’ll want to find new tools to make social media marketing more effective and efficient, depending on your strategy and resources.
Some popular tools include:
- Tweetdeck and Hootsuite – two free, desktop and mobile applications to manage Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in one place
- Osfoora, Echofon, TweetBot – popular mobile applications for Twitter
- BufferApp and SocialFlow – drip feed content through the day
- Smart phones – web and geo enabled phones that provide a range of capabilities to make the most out of social media on the run. Popular options include iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices
Managing social media profiles and relationships can seem like a daunting task and some people simply become overwhelmed. Finding the right process can make a world of difference. You should expect to develop the right process over the course of several months; unfortunately, it’s not something that can be easily prescribed prior to diving in.
Here’s a simple template you could modify to help your team stay on top of things.
At the end of the day, you need to measure results to evaluate the success of social media. There is no standard formula. It depends entirely on your objectives and the meaning derived from the complex array of data you can potentially collect.
At a minimum you’ll want to track links with Bitly.com and analyze user behavior with web stats software such as Google Reader. The key is to see what’s working and adjust your social media mix accordingly.
That’s it. Hope you found this helpful!