As part of our interview series on effective use of social media marketing, I recently caught up with Travis Unwin, Director of Media Strategies for one of Awareness' partner agencies Sitewire, a full service digital marketing and interactive advertising agency. The agency now counts more than sixty consultants who provide their clients with the necessary tools to successfully engage their customers in the digital space. Sitewire's client roster is full of leading brands including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Sears, The Capital Grill, and Sage. Additionally, Sitewire works closely with a variety of technology partners like LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo!, Yelp and YouTube, to develop innovative solutions for their clients. Travis shared some of his team's best practices for social media strategy and engagement.
When it comes to creating social engagement, Travis and his team follow these rules:
- Be Empathic -The secret to successful social engagement is empathy. In the era of real-time conversations, engagement starts with participating in the customer dialog. According to Travis, the first priority for social teams is to take care of the customer - "we are responsible for the voice of the customer, and customer service is responsible for the voice of the client." This is why Sitewire's consultants share diverse backgrounds - marketing, consumer psychology and customer service.
- Don't "Post and Walk" - It is all about the dialog and building meaningful relationships with your customers, says Travis. Your social followers respond within the first hour of your posting, so "don't expect to share interesting content at 9 p.m. if you are not going to be there to reply to comments."
- Be Consistent - As with any relationship, consistency in posting and sharing content on social channels is key to a brand's ongoing success. Once customers see brands posting with a certain frequency, they will expect brands to continue to deliver with the same frequency. Change your posting routine and be prepared for the ensuing backlash. That said, a brand can choose to be "consistently inconsistent". The important takeaway is that brands need to realize they are in the business of consistently meeting customer expectations.
- Add Variety - Social content needs be a mixture of transactional and community-driven posts. Interactive polls and "fill-in-the-blanks" quizzes are among the most engaging content that keeps your customers coming back.
- Track Success -Travis will be the first to tell you that tracking the success of your social campaigns is the recipe for long-term success. His team is adamant about tracking customer interactions and needs and feeding that insight back to their clients so brands can improve their products, delivery, and overall customer experience. In addition, Sitewire tracks a wide spectrum of sales-related data from social and web channels, although, as Travis says, we are still early in our ability to understand the full social impact on sales.
Remember that the best place to start your social engagement strategy is by first examining your business goals and objectives. As a socially-savvy marketer should, Travis sees the job of his team at Sitewire as business strategists first, with an eye towards how social marketing can support these objectives.
For more on Travis you can visit his very successful alter ego - Evo Terra. Evo Terra, Travis' pen name, came into existence in 2002 to "help authors and publishers be even more awesome." Co-founder of Podiobooks and ePublishUnum, Evo has managed to help a number of authors along the way, while also successfully bringing to market the podcasting best-seller Podcasting for Dummies.
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