It's not enough anymore to just have a community manager answering posts, uploading photos and tweeting. We need a plan, we need stability, we need a roadmap of where we want to end up.
The most common type of social media engagement is the external one. Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Blog posts all in its honor, but to build a house you need a steady base to build on.
Investing in social media should be a long term project and internal support is imperative.
Make sure your company understands social media before diving into it. Further more, make sure you have a commitment from people to treat social media as a priority.
This point is very related to my first point.
While finding out what support you have in your company, don't forget to see what internal resources you have.
Do you have access to a programmer who can help you make changes to your company blog? Do you have a designer that can once in a while help you out with transforming a photo in Photoshop and make it 10 times more sharable? Do you have people working in customer service that can help out with your Twitter support? Is there any writer savvy team members who would love to contribute to the blog?
Make a list of what resources you have in-house to later see what you need to go and find elsewhere.
Goals and objectives
I may be repetitive but the goals are a fundamental part of your strategy.
Is Twitter really right for your company? Does it make more sense to be on Pinterest?
What are you trying to achieve? Brand awareness, increase sales, loyalty campaigns, cost savings the list can be as long as you decide it to be.
I have been at companies where the main goal was brand awareness. Then a great content strategy, continuous engagement and contests online were important parts.
I have also been at companies who's sole objective was to increase sales. Then exclusive social media offers, a steady blog post with various integrated sales pitches and actively reaching out to potential customers were all parts of our day to day actions.
Goals are also necessary to establish KPI's. How are you going to measure your efforts? What is social media success to your company?
Learn from others
Social media is not new any more. There are thousands of case studys out there, so take some time to check out your competitors, benchmark well and read, try, learn, adapt and try again.
Is your company a local store, a national enterprise or does it have an international presence?
Do you have representatives in other countries?
Do you have CUSTOMERS all over the world?
How many "hubs" do you have (places to drive traffic to).
Sit down and consolidate the already existing material out there. Do you have several Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that need to be merged? What's going to be your communication language? Do you have access to local content that can support a local Facebook page?
It's important to understand that one model does not fit every company and think long and hard about what online presence you should have in different locations.
If you have a worldwide audience you may need to do some research on what the most popular networks and platforms are at your other locations. Although Facebook and Twitter are big platforms in most countries there are many niche communities in different countries that could be much better for your business.
The core of social media is communications. It's about a two-way communication with your customer, making that fan into a brand evangelist. But it all starts with a connection and some type of communication.
Social media can belong to your marketing department if you want but whether you want it or not, the communications department will (and should!) be involved. Now, when forming your social media strategy, make sure you find out how the flow of communication works in your company.
Social media should make communications easier, not harder. Yet many companies struggle with finding a smooth flow of communications in between departments. Social media is fast. If you take 1 hour longer to answer your customer than your competitor does, you may loose that customer. This means you can't go through 3 people to get an answer when a customer is calling. You need to have access to the express line to the responsible person who can help you get an answer.
Your responsible person should be a centric role in your company, not isolated into one department. He or she should have direct access to the heads of each department.
Social media is also about creating relationships. Once you start working in a company with social media you should make a digital rollerdex and take note on important Twitter followers, interesting blogs and contact information. Fill up your excel sheet or google docs spread sheet as you go, file important tags so that you later can go and export a list of contacts from a certain segment when you need to get your brand new infographic, viral video project or press release out to the digital world.
If you are an IT company selling printers, maybe photos may not be the sexiest type of content. However, videos may be a perfect match considering the opportunity to make tutorials and create helful and meaningful content.
If you are a bakery making cupcakes, photos may be the ideal type of content and platforms such as Instagram may be great places to showcase your beautiful cupcakes, while LinkedIn may not fulfill that many objectives.
Think long about this point. Don't waste resources, time and money pushing out all types of content to all platforms just for the sake of it. Pinpoint where your customer is and what he/she appreciates. How can you help your customer? How can you entertain him? How can you impress her?Tweet