We consult, implement and work with many businesses to help them achieve business benefits by integrating social media and online marketing into their business. It's not about leveraging social media as a band-aid for a broken business. It's about helping them best determine where and how social media can be integrated and plugged into their business DNA to meet business objectives, increase brand awareness, build community, bring people closer to their brand, and of course sales.
Often times they show up at the first meeting all pumped up. More times than not they have been over sold by an agency or clueless consultant who has sold them on the fact that all they need to obtain results is a Facebook business pages, some likes and a Twitter profile to share their links. They've been told spending time on strategy or planning is a waste of time as Facebook likes is all they need in the new world of online marketing.
Sorry folks, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Wrong game, right field or right game, wrong field?
Many businesses are showing up to the game but they're on the wrong field. They also have the wrong attire and mindset. It's not about a quick win or dunk in the basket with 500 likes and a Klout score of 70. It's about building relationships, fostering a community, inspiring people to connect with your brand by helping them achieve their goals and objectives.
We quickly see their faces turn from over joyed excitement to reality when they realize they have been sold a bag of worthless social good by the last agency sitting in our seat of their conference room. As soon as we serve them a friendly dose of reality, one of the first questions we here is "wow, this is going to take work." Yup, this is going to take work. However, avoiding it is going to take work too.
You don't have to be everything to everyone. Be something to somebody.
The most important aspect of social media is that you understand and implement social where it can have the greatest impact to your business and provide the most value to your communities of clients, partners, prospects and colleagues. You don't have to be everything to everyone. Be something to somebody.
Get Prepared - Know your business!
Before you hire an agency or consultant to sort thru the steps you need to take to become a social business there are some things you can do with little to no help from an agency. Remember it's about leveraging social media to help your audience and yourself achieve business goals and objectives. It's not about wasting money for a bunch of free conversation. Avoid Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) at all costs. Pick the areas of your business where social can have the greatest impact.
It presents great risk when businesses know they have a team player, skill or tool issue but don't acknowledge. Casualties are to be expected in this scenario. The best thing you can do is invest time up front in preparing. If you take the time to answer key questions you set your game to win. Do more than show up on the right field. Show up with a team ready to kick, hit, throw that ball out of the park!
46 Things to Start Working on BEFORE You Show up to the Social Business Field!
1. What are your business goals and objectives.
2. What does success look like?
3. What executive is going to champion the project?
4. Who is going to take lead for social media within your organization? We call this person the social zoom agent. They are the quarterback for your team as you work on becoming a social business.
5. Who will take lead on developing a social media policy? Who needs to review and approve?
6. How will you integrate the social media policy with HR policies?
7. What is your budget for marketing? Social media? Integration? Training?
8. Will the initiative impact other departmental budgets? How will you prioritize?
9. What resources will support the social business initiative?
10. Do you have adaquate resources? If not, how will you obtain? Hire internal? Leverage outside resources? Combine both internal and external?
11. Who are your top audiences? How will you prioritize them?
12. Do you know if your top audiences and competition are using social media? Start early and watch, listen and learn about how they are engaging and how their communities are responding to them.
13. What partners and friends do you have that are leveraging social? Are they influential? Create a list of top influencers in your niche who you can partner with to increase time to market and results.
14. What objectives do you think will best be enhanced and better achieved by leveraging social media? Any good agency or consultant worth their time in your conference room should be able to help you sort this out during the very early stages of an engagement.
15. Do you have any departments who will not be supportive of your efforts to become a social business? If yes, it's better to deal with them up front than shove the issue under the carpet!
16. What are your plans to get non-supporting departments into the social business game with you?
17. What are the top departments who will provide support and participation?
18. What departments will see the most value in terms of efficiency, impact to bottom line, objectives and goals?
19. What change management investment will be required to ensure employees are properly trained and in the game?
20. Who will take lead on content development? What stakeholders will need to approve content internally?
21. Who will take lead on community engagement?
22. Do you have the marketing and brand assets ready for an outside agency or consultant to to leverage and implement on the social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.?
24. Does your web team have the skills to implement the digital assets across the social networks in a way that will connect with your target markets and also properly represent your brand? Or are they stuck in the dot bomb era? How will you get their skills and mindset where they need to be?
25. Who will you invite to the first initial meetings? Who will be invited as extended team members? Who will take ownership of key areas as key sub-projects move forward?
26. How will you achieve buy-in and participation from other departments? Will you assign a team lead from each department? How often will you meet? How will you set objectives? How will you facilitate and obtain their input up front?
27. If you are a franchised organization, what is your corporate office doing in regard to social that you can leverage? What approvals are needed from corporate?
28. If you are a franchised organization, can you leverage the power of many? Consider working with corporate and pooling resources with other franchises for maximum impact, budget, efficiency and workload balancing.
29. Who will do a sanity check that you are implementing and executing correctly?
30. What is your Plan B in case Plan A doesn't work?
31. How many agencies or consultants will you interview before selecting the final? What questions will you ask them? How will you make a decision? How will you measure their results? How will you hold them accountable?
32. How are you going to prioritize and in what order you implement social media in internal departments?
33. What impact will social media have on sales? How can you drive efficiencies, generate more leads?
34. What impact will social media have on customer service? How can you increase customer intimacy, customer satisfaction?
35. What changes will need to be made to other marketing assets in support of social? This could include product packaging, email templates, tradeshow displays, campaigns, signs, newsletters.
36. Are your products and services ready to be social? What changes are needed?
37. How are the relationships with outside partners, community, associations? Have you been locked up in the office the past few years? If yes, time to get out and start networking so you can focus on building and fostering relationships.
38. What are the key indicators that will help you measure success?
39. Do you know what your audiences and the market is currently saying about you? How will you measure the impact on reputation going forward?
40. How will you proactively manage your reputation?
41. What is the escalation procedures and contacts should there be a need as you engage in social media?
42. Do you currently have tools and dashboards in place to monitor and conduct social media listening. Do you want to purchase these tools, use free tools or leverage an agency who can manage for you and report weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
43. How important is managing your reputation in regard to other priorities? Are you willing to allocate budget to do such?
44. Are you ready to invest in the people in your communities? It's not just about selling and talking about yourself. This is a big change for many organizations and harder than they initially think to implement and allocate resources.
45. Do you have any historical and current data that can be leveraged by the agency or consultant to help you make the best decisions? This could include surveys, primary market research, email marketing metrics, Google Analytics, tradeshow measurements, direct mail results, campaign analytics etc.
46. Who is going to make all of the above decisions?
Do you know what it takes to be a social business? Have you had an agency or consultant sell you a bag of Facebook likes only to find out the hard way 12 months later it is going to take more than likes to see results? Are you ready to invest for more reasons than just ROI? Are you willing to invest in the people who you need to connect to? Have you successfully implemented social media and can help others with tips you learned along the way?
35 Social Media Truths
This is the third in a series on social business I am working on "35 Social Media Truths". It is part of a keynote presentation I gave at Rochester Institute of Technology. If you want to hear more, sign up for the 35 Social Media Truths Newsletter and you will receive all 35 of them over a period of time. Included will be different mediums such as video, blog posts and more.