Working as a social media strategist for the past eight years has given me an opportunity to work with many clients that take social media seriously and have put processes in place to facilitate success. It's also given me ample occasion to deal with businesses which fail to acknowledge that social media marketing requires commitment, and the right organizational mindset.
Do you want to position your company for all of the benefits social media can deliver?
Let’s look at some no-nonsense ways you can accomplish that.
1. Realize there’s no substitute for a sound strategy
Brands which have built large and engaged followings have not done so by accident. They strategize and have a plan for their social media channels - they've taken the time to understand what’s important, interesting, and entertaining to their audience.
Here's what an effective social media plan for your business will address:
- The audience needs and expectations on each platform your company uses
- Types of content your brand will post on those platforms
- Content themes to guide the kinds of posts you will create
- Frequency of updates
- Roles and responsibilities of team members and other parties that will manage your social media channels
- Tools that will be used to automate and schedule social media updates
- Policies for responding to mentions, comments, and messages - positive and negative
Creating a content calendar is an effective way to organize the social media content you create, and ensure it aligns with your broader strategic protocol. You may decide to plan your content a week, a month, a quarter, or a year in advance - in all cases, a content calendar will help you stay active on your channels even during the most hectic of times.
2. Make sure your social media management team has mastered your brand’s voice
Whoever has the responsibility of crafting your social media content, and responding to followers, also needs to have a firm understanding of your brand’s voice. If your content and interactions are off-brand, your social media presence might confuse customers, or even drive them away.
One idea for keeping social media managers on track is to have a style guide for your company. A style guide can contain rules for any aspects of communication you want to be handled consistently by all who represent your business (customer service, marketing, public relations, sales, etc.).
A style guide might include these elements (and much more):
- How you want your business name presented (for example, “ABC Electronics, Inc” vs. “ABC Electronics:”)
- Hyphenation of certain words (such as “well being” vs. “well-being”)
- Compound word preferences (like “health care” vs. “healthcare”)
- Taboo words (those that you never want to be used within your posts)
- The tone of your company (such as casual, earthy, witty, prestigious, high-tech, etc.)
Before you task someone with tending to your social media, make sure you’ve given them your style guide, and encourage them to ask you for direction when they’re unsure whether proposed content will accurately reflect your brand voice.
3. Be approachable and real
It’s called “social” media for a reason. Brands that come off as out of touch with, or uninterested in their followers, put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Make your brand presence more than just a talking logo that promotes your services in every post - mix it up and give your updates the human touch.
Some ideas for how to do that include:
- Strike conversations with your followers - ask questions or create polls to get them talking
- Share glimpses of what happens behind the scenes of your business via videos
- Introduce your team members through bios and/or video interviews
- Share real-life stories about how your products and services have helped your customers
By making followers feel at home with your brand, you’ll gain their trust, and facilitate interaction with your company. Ultimately, that can result in more referrals, leads, and new customers.
The Ultimate Social Media “Must”
The absolute essential ingredient for success with social media is a willingness to embrace it as part of your company’s operations.
Just like other aspects of your business - sales, customer service, production, technical support, marketing, etc. - social media requires constant attention and evaluation. And, just like other aspects of your business, your social media goals should be carefully constructed to align with your overall organizational goals and objectives.