How to start a social media strategy
Social media is gaining importance as a tool to engage with your customers and find out the conversation about your brand. Social media is simply word-of-mouth online. Your customers talk about your brand with their friends. What can you as a marketer do to get engaged with the conversation? Here are a few important steps to consider.
1. Start listening. This is the most important and ongoing part of any social media plan and one that cannot be ignored. There are various free and paid tools to help you with your listening efforts. I will write a separate blog post on listening tools.
2. Create your plan and sstablish your goals. And make sure the goals you set are SMART: Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely. You want to set goals because you want to be able to say how successful your social media efforts are. Is your goal to increase brand awareness, website traffic or increase leads? Maybe it is to raise advertising awareness or deal with customer issues? Whatever it is, write it down so you can revisit it 3 months from now. Start with a small goal in mind. For example, I want to track traffic from Facebook and Twitter to www.diamondpeak.com and see if all the posts and links result in an increase in website traffic. Make sure your goal is measurable and that you can convince your CEO that the effort is worth it based on your goals.
3. Join in the conversation. Continue to listen. You can’t simply jump in and start blasting your marketing campaigns the old fashioned way. You need to understand that authenticity and transparency are becoming the standard in social media. You can’t hide behind a company brand and just blast your followers and fans. You need to engage and become a part of your community. You need to guide your tribe in the conversation. And you need to show that you are human. Start participating. Provide value to your community.
4. Identify the influencers in your field. They may not be necessary your biggest customers but they may and could be talking about your brand. There are online tools that will allow you to do so. You need to connect with the influencers and make sure they talk about your company. Companies are starting to pay cash to big bloggers as long as they blog about them to their followers. Personally, I disagree with this tactic. As long as the bloggers are disclosing the fact that they are getting paid, they are under no other legal obligation. You need to connect with the people who create the most noise about your company hopefully without any monetary compensation but strictly passion for your product/cause/service.
4. Your employees are now your ambassadors. They are online and they are talking about the company to their friends. You need to explain to them your social strategy and have their buy-in. Everything they say about your company is also part of the conversation. Hold a meeting with your employees and explain to them your efforts – an official blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account. Encourage them to participate and explain the goals of your social media strategy. You may need to create a social media policy for your employees to avoid costly mistakes similar to Domino’s.
5. Measure and adapt – look at your goals and change your social media plan accordingly.