I met a new client today and he wanted some help and advice on how to “get on the internet”.
“Just tell me how I can have a Facebook page or one of those Twitter accounts”.
We discussed this for a while and as I listened I began to recognise a familiar pattern. There was no real strategy or success measurement, just an enthusiasm to catch up on the competition and get on the social media merry-go-round.
My client is an intelligent , smart successful business person but he has fallen in love with the technology. Most businesses have goals, benchmarks, and measurable results. however, when it comes to social media, we all seem to abandon these good habits. This is understandable; most people are seduced or fascinated by the social media tools.
I think people are so amazed that the tools are free that they assume there is no cost to engaging on social media. There is a time cost, a reputation cost and an opportunity cost associated with online activity. All social media activity is marketing activity and should have a plan in the same way as traditional marketing activity.
My role is to help my client to connect what he does online with his business goals.
I started by explaining how different companies use social media tools for different purposes.
- To market their services or products
- As part of their customer service process
- A channel for promotions and competitions
- A way of building brand awareness
- A combination of all of the above
There are a variety of tools such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest etc. Each tool offers something different from the others.
Twitter, allows him speak directly with his customers, removing the protection of the traditional business hierarchy that used to protect the managers from the actual customers.
Pinterest, on the other hand, allows him share pictures and videos with employees or customers and can generate traffic to his website.
The choice of tool and how much time he devotes to this depends on what he hopes to achieve. In the absence of a clear strategy, it can be difficult to determine if his efforts are successful or not.
The following are my list of essential actions in developing an effective and manageable online presence.
1.Create a workflow framework to suit each tool.
When your staff spend time creating content or responding to customer requests and comments they may fall behind on their actual work. This infographic illustrates the possible time investment required to develop an effective social media workflow. Having said that, every organization is different and any workflow used should suit the size and type of the business and be designed to ensure the achievement of business goals.
2. Spend some time creating the bio.
The bio or About us section should give a short overview or snapshot of who you are, what services or brands your company offers and your reason for interacting with them. The content or tone of voice will depend on how you want to be perceived. Some companies do not mind humour, others are more formal.
3. Recognise the value of the instant communication.
Online tools and social media give us access to people and information that would not otherwise be available. That changes the relationship between you and your customers, suppliers and competitors. All the comments may not be positive. Are you prepared to hear the negative feedback?
4. Involve the staff in building your online presence.
This creates a more interesting company personality and allows staff to build on their relationship with the customers. You will have to create some policies to help the staff understand how the social media channel fits into the organisational strategy. Sending out one email on the launch day is not sufficient. Talk about the social media activities and results at staff meetings.
5. Talk About What People Care About
Using social media as a marketing channel is not the same as putting an advert in the newspaper. It’s not just a broadcast medium. It’s you having a two-way conversation with your audience. Try to avoid post too many selling messages. Share information that they will enjoy reading or that will be useful to them .
I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any tips please feel free to share in the comments section below.