10 Step Social Media Process
Making mistakes in business is all part of the learning curve to becoming successful. Some new businesses seek out angels or dragons to guide them pass some of the hurdles. So we thought we would help you out a bit and give you a few pointers to guide you into the world of social media. Hopefully it will help you bypass a few rookie mistakes some of our clients have made along the way.
Step 1 - Start monitoring and listening.
Create an audit to establish your organisations reputation. By listening you'll be able to establish
- The issues: what is impacting your brand
- The influencers: who in your marketplace is influencing others
- The platforms or places where your customers (and influencers) congregate (the influential networks, including blogs, discussion groups and other social networks)
- Your customers opinions about your products, your organisation and the competition.
Step 2 - Set priorities and goals.
Don't try to cover all social media outlets. It is not possible to engage in all conversations everywhere. Initially pick the more important ones. Learn when and when not to engage. Set objectives and know what you want to achieve with social media (develop relationships, establish your brand, grow awareness, etc).
Step 3 - Agree key messages.
Be ready to engage with the target audience in a meaningful way (truly understand what the customer wants to know and give them only a relevant answer). Prepare some standardised messages for a range of issues or situations so that they can be tailored easily. Learn how to create links, back-links and retweets. If you have a team, teach them and share your guidelines with them about what is and is not appropriate.
Step 4 - Develop good content.
Social media is not a direct marketing tool, you shouldn't be selling here, although sales can follow good content. Your content has to be valuable otherwise you're just creating a whole load of noise. You have to be prepared to help and share others good content. Share articles, videos and other content that is relevant to your customer. These can be yours or someone else's (remember to credit them). Most importantly of all, add comments to others discussions if you are being helpful and relevant.
Step 5 - Recruit and train your team of spokespeople.
You need to identify who in the team has permission to do things. Who can write a blog and publish it, or handle tweets, or upload video. Who handles responses? Is there one person or different people for different issues? Now brief the rest of the organisation. Let your entire organisation into your strategy.
Step 6 - Commit time and resources.
You will need a consistent stream of useful content. This requires planning, training and motivating your team, which requires resources. Whether you use an outside agency or do it in-house, you need to monitor results, again requiring resources. Once you start proving the value of social media, you will find it easier to allocate resources to it.
Step 7 - Constantly promote social media.
Being online is pretty much the same as having a business in the real world. You have to promote it at any given opportunity. Just as all organisations now promote their websites in everything they do, so too should social media be promoted. Announce your Twitter name, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile at every opportunity.
- Announce it at conferences and news releases
- Add details to slides, news releases and letterheads.
- List them on your website.
- Post all presentations on your social media sites.
- Anything that you do that helps and/or keeps your customers informed should be posted to social media.
Step 8 - Integrate online and offline events.
Your online team needs to know what your offline team are doing. The online team needs to know what promotions and/or marketing events are happening well in advance so they can get the website ready, film videos and create eye catching content for social media. A shared schedule of events or an outline plan to allow integration and leverage of various marketing assets on to social media platforms (like ads, promotions, videos, etc) is essential.
Step 9 - Plan for success.
Although it will take time to build up your networks and followers, you will need to be prepared for when the sudden influx of comments, visitors and enquiries happen. It's a nice problem to have. However, if you can't handle the incoming web traffic with its comments and enquires, it can end up generating lots of negative feelings towards your company. Develop credibility before raising your visibility.
10. Measure, improve, repeat, measure, improve, repeat.
Watch your analytics. See if traffic spikes as a result of any particular posting. Do more of the same or make small improvements to see if the spikes in traffic can get bigger. Never stop testing.
Watch what generates visitors, conversions, and good comments, as opposed to negative comments. You need to act upon what is being said about your company, your staff, your products etc. Be where your customers are, blogs, micro-blogs (Twitter), forums, social networks and online news media.
Social media is there for organisations who are truly customer orientated. Customers share information, tips, suggestions, and ideas between themselves. This gives an organisation so much more insight than a focus group would. Social media helps build relationships with your customers.
If you find that participation rates are too low and therefore do not justify the resources you have invested in, then it's time to stop. It's best to have an exit plan already mapped out. You'll need to know how you'll stop a blog or a discussion, the reason you would give for it stopping, and finally where you would send your followers off to, such as another relevant site or group.