7 essential steps to intelligent social media
- Develop a plan. The intelligent application of social media begins by understanding that everything you do is an extension of your overall marketing strategy, which is why it's critical that all social media efforts reflect and enhance your brand in the markets and regions you're targeting. As always, the goal is to ensure that your identity and messaging remain consistent across all platforms
- Identify a few overall goals, for example lead generation, customer retention, establishing expertise or increasing brand awareness and equity. These help determine which social media platforms are best for you.
- Communicate your social media strategy to your entire organisation. Involve everyone. Key contributors from within your company may need a 'participation schedule' so they know when to Tweet or blog, when and how to respond to a comment. It's not just about controlling the direction and tone, there are many other skills involved.
- Do your research. Once a social media strategy is in place, invest time in finding out where your audience 'lives’. Each market, industry, country or region has its own preferences: some count on LinkedIn while others prefer Twitter, blogs, YouTube or Facebook. You can and should use all social media platforms, but it's smart to prioritise according to your customers.
- Set corporate guidelines. As a good social media campaign involves all parts of your organisation, from sales to technical support, it's unrealistic to assume that everyone will know how to participate. It is important to set some basic rules for your staff to follow when blogging, Tweeting or responding to comments on forums. The guidelines should cover how the post/Tweet/response should be written. Remember, the use of social media is not to preach or advertise but to engage and participate. Always separate opinions from facts, and make sure your audience can see the difference. Be engaged and be informed. Know what the current conversations are and what people are saying so you can contribute to creating a new perspective.
- Jump in. You have a strategy, you know from your research where and in which direction to focus your efforts and you have some basic guidelines for everyone to follow. The only thing left is to execute your plan. It’s not enough to just make yourself visible on a social media platform, you want to create value through the content you offer. Establish your expertise through well-written, information-based articles, e-books and videos, and demonstrate your willingness to share your knowledge with anyone who asks. That's the intelligent use of social media. Start sharing your knowledge, discoveries and contacts, as these are the 'seeds' that stimulate two-way conversation. And when someone responds to your efforts - comments on your blog, sends a personal message, Tweets, leaves a message on your Facebook page - take the time to answer!
- Don't count, measure. Tracking the results of social media efforts can be problematic, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Remember, social media is an opportunity to create and amplify relationships, to get involved in direct customer engagement, get real-time survey data, and experiment with ideas. Time frames, too, are different. Yes, there is instantaneous response on some social media platforms (and this information can be invaluable) but the deeper effects, the trust and influence you're trying to build, take time to fully manifest. Review:
- How often do your posts draw a response?
- How often is the information you offer shared, re-posted or uploaded?
- Is there an increase in the number of visitors to your website and Facebook page?
- Are your SEO efforts making progress?
Remember, social media efforts are relatively inexpensive; you can afford to change tactics, experiment with various platforms, try a different style or tone. And if you don't have the time or resources to organise social media activities, or if you need help establishing a cohesive marketing strategy that includes social media, that's where an agency like Vertical can really help.