Social Media is part of our modern way of living and the stats tell the story: 91% of online adults use social media, thus, businesses can’t ignore this medium anymore. However, in order to succeed it’s important that you have a social media objective for your business, that you align that objective with your resources, that you focus your efforts where your audience is and that your communication plan is targeted according to the social medium. Every effort must be carefully measured to determine the level of success, what works and what doesn’t and what provides ROI.
The myriad of social networks and the marketing hype is overwhelming even to the most sophisticated. And this often leads to the assumption that businesses must be on every social media platform to succeed. And that, is so overwhelming, that most throw up their hands and say “Why bother? There is no way we can do that.” What many do not realize is that success is not found in being an ace at on every platform out there (truly an impossible task if ever there was one!) But success comes in choosing the right platforms and participating in a measured, thoughtful and relevant approach.
Social media cannot be ignored. In the Fall of 2012, 91% of all adults used social media regularly and spent 22.5% of their time online. Social media is the new television. By contrast, only 27% of small and 34% of mid-size business are using social media and 25% of them do not have any social media strategy. To make matters worse, on average only 30% of fans’ feedback are responded to by companies and 56% of customer tweets to companies are ignored. Business is losing a tremendous opportunity to engage with customers and prospects. But, where to begin?
Each social network has a unique purpose: connect with friends and family, connect with professional peers, news, photo sharing, even games and TV. When you decide your business must be on a social network, you’re asking your audience to connect, engage and share with your brand. This requires that you give something back to them in return. To do this effectively you must choose your spot and throw your resources behind being the best on the platform where your customers and prospects spend their time.
1) Determine why you want to be in a social environment. It’s important to determine your objective. Do you want to generate sales? To increase brand awareness? To provide customer service? To increase customer retention and loyalty? You name it. The objective you choose will determine where to focus your social media presence, how you do it and how you measure your success.
2) Evaluate the resources you’ll need to achieve your objective. There is the common misconception that social media is a free medium, where in reality it’s a very expensive one. As a matter of fact, you’ll need a lot of resources (a.k.a people) with different talents, depending on your objectives. For starters, you’ll need good writers and communicators that understand your business and products. If your products and services can be visually demonstrated, the use of video is a great way to communicate and for that you’ll need video production and editorial talents. If you have a highly conceptual service, a video or slide share presentation can help organize and simplify your services; in this case you would need Powerpoint and video edit talents in addition to great communicators on your team. You might not have all these talents on staff and you might not need to. Before you go outside, consider which departments in your company will contribute to your social media effort. Then train your staff to answer your audience in an intelligent, problem-solving and professional manner. Lastly, hire outsource talent to perform tasks for which you cannot justify adding a full-time person on staff.
3) Discover where your customers gather online. Your social objective will guide you here too. If you want to connect with brand advocates try Facebook, if you want to visually inspire your audience start a Pinterest board. If you need to connect with top-level executives start with LinkedIn. Find your target audience, align it with your social objective and get involved. A good starting place is to look where your competitors are and how they are working that medium.
4) Determine KPIs before you start. Determine the KPIs (key performance indicators) for your program before begin. Generally the amount of “likes” and “shares” are used as a measure of success, but that data alone is a mediocre measure. A much more powerful KPI is data that can be linked to revenue. You need to concentrate your measurement and analytics time on data the impacts the bottom line. For example, an increasing trend on page fans as it relates to new leads, or shares to new leads. Or direct contacts from your social media pages that impacted revenue or customer service.
5) Create a plan for each channel! People who repurpose content in the same format across all social media are not giving prospects and clients a compelling reason to fan their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel or link to them on LinkedIn. Remember, each social network has a purpose and an audience, therefore it is important that you have a content plan for each channel you decide to invest your resources in. And, most importantly, don’t forget to engage with your audience by replying to their questions and comments in a timely fashion.