With statistics showing that 90% of organizations maintain social media profiles, failing to have a social media presence for your organization can put you at a significant disadvantage. However, there is a difference between participation and actually achieving social media success. The following are best practices that can help any organization get better results from their social media engagement.
Keys to a powerful, sustainable social media presence
Building an effective and scalable social media presence requires good planning and execution and a commitment to keeping the social media pages timely and compelling. Here are some factors to consider as you work toward developing the perfect online image for your brand:
Locate your audience. You want to be where your audience is, so ensure that the platforms you use are those favored by your prospects, customers and partners. Most businesses use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, which serve markets across the board. These venues would be a great place to start.
Determine your objectives. Are you trying to gather market intelligence on your industry and competitors, or is augmenting your customer and technical support more important to you? Do you want to build a network of active customers who will evangelize your product and build your knowledgebase or are you more interested in building brand awareness and generating leads among likely prospects? Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you build a relevant and productive online image.
Decide how you will measure success. The measures you use depend on your objectives. If your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, you will need to measure how quickly you respond to customer inquiries or how efficiently problems are resolved. If lead generation is your goal, you will need to track leads accurately and determine their value.
Understand social media tools. Ensure that you know all the tools available to you and how to use them to your advantage. Virtually all popular social media platforms have support centers that can show you how to use their tools. There are also online resources and blogs that can provide useful information.
Capture and integrate your data. The data you gather from your social media involvement should be integrated with your other marketing data to assure comprehensive reporting of program results, including whatever CRM system you use and your Web analytics. If you are capturing leads via your social media efforts, make sure you can accurately tie them to their sources so you have a clear picture of ROI on all your social networking efforts.
Consider both quantity and quality. As you monitor what is being said about you via social media, pay attention to both volume of content and the nature of the content itself. Remember that negative comments are inevitable. Be sure you are prepared to handle them quickly and resolve any issues that might distract you from reaching your objectives.
Follow your associates and have them follow you. This seems like a very basic idea, but make sure you are comprehensive about it. You should engage in a mutual following with as many of your partners, vendors, customers and other relevant participants in your business as possible.
Build your organization’s profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. A good start is to establish corporate pages on these three popular social media platforms. Make sure your pages are engaging by including images, photos, logos and other appropriate graphics that will spice up your page.
Employee participation can amplify the message. Targeting key employees who can provide relevant and timely content extends the reach of your marketing efforts and ensures that your organization’s Facebook page or Twitter feed stays fresh and new.
Mitigate social media risks with policies, training and technology. Last but not least, it will be essential to your success that you manage the risks of social media, which can include brand damage, data loss, regulatory violations, legal liability, employee productivity loss and cyber harassment. Begin with a comprehensive policy signed by all employees. Next, include training to ensure everyone knows the guidelines. Finally, deploy technology that includes granular visibility and blocking to assure that your policies are enforced.