Over the past week or so I have heard this common refrain about social media…It’s not hard. Just get an account and do it.
I have been naïve to think we were beyond where businesses think social media is the easy road to increased profits and takes no planning or skill. For businesses to be successful socially, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Having a presence in social media should be part of the communications or marketing planning. Social media is one of the new tools communicators and marketers have in their toolbox along with traditional tools. Begin by asking a series of questions such as:
What is it we want to do?What do we want to say?Who do we want to hear us?How will we know we’ve been successful?What are people saying about us now?
Once these questions are answered, it’s time to take a look at the tools to see which combination might be best. Traditional tools like press releases, signage, brochures and newsletters are likely still important. But businesses should look at adding a couple social networks as well, depending on the plan.
Each social network has different characteristics so one size doesn’t fit all. Demographic information is available for most social networks through the good folks at Pew Research.
Choose One or Two
Social media is about listening, responding, posting and engaging. If you’re not doing all of those things, you’re missing an important part of the picture. And that’s where starting small comes in. Don’t try to be everywhere but instead start with a plan to be social on one or two networks. Then grow as success comes, and the comfort level grows.
Even if you’re not engaging on more than one network, listen in to what’s being said about your company and your competition on other networks. Set up key word searches and Google Alerts to make sure you’re listening, even if you’re not ready to engage.
There’s an expectation in the social realm that you’ll respond, and fairly quickly. That’s where the social part comes in. It’s not about shouting & talking. It’s about chatting and having a conversation. It’s about solving problems. It’s about sharing news that the person wants to hear using the language that’s been crafted for the tool.
Probably need a Policy
Not wanting to gum up the works, but businesses that have employees handling their social media likely need to draft some simple guidelines and rules. These guide the employee and protect both the company and the employee. It’s also a good check to make sure you’re really ready.
What else do you wish organizations understood? If you’re an organization getting started, what else do you like to know?