Kick start your social media

I feel we’ve got to a point this year where Social Media is being taken more seriously. There is still a huge range of questions out there around who should manage it, how it should be managed, where the budget comes from and how to prove ROI.

I’m not attempting to answer these in this blog, but instead will list a few pointers about how to kick start your first steps into this area.

Listening

I know it’s tempting to get the twitter account set up, sort out the wall paper and tell all your friends but….. Before being a part of the conversations that are happening out there you need to know where they are happening and who it is having them so you can determine how to contribute and be a part of these communities.

There are free tools and paid for tools and this is where I think an agency can best benefit you, especially if you’re new in the area. Let them know your objectives and reasons for wanting to get involved and let them have a listen and see what they can find. If you are looking to do it yourself, just remember a few things:

  • Be specific with your searches – you’ll be amazed what else your brand name means to others.
  • Use multiple tools – if you’re not paying for them, be sure to do some research on the free ones. You’ll find they all report on something a little different.

First Steps

Remember, in the social media space it’s not about companies promoting their products to individuals, it’s about conversations.  Eventually your staff should be in the driving seat of these relationships, but it’s okay to have a helping hand at the start.

  • Find people internally – experts in their field, passionate about their work, empowered to act on posts. Provide training to these employees – let them know how your brand will be seen in this space.
  • Social Media policy – Give your employees some guidelines on how to engage online. Tone, branding, examples…
  • Strategy – Social media covers lots of different platforms, you can’t do it all at once so make a starting point and be prepared for it to expand.
  • Engagement – Make employees aware of how much time should be devoted to social media communication and what areas they should focus on and remember to regularly measure this and be ready for changes.

Engage

Now you can set up Twitter! Upload images on Flickr, Find people to follow on Twitter, leave comments on blogs. Start to build these online relationships.  You might like to create an activity calendar around large events so employees can best plan their time.

Don’t forget Offline

Social Media is not a replace for your current interactions, it’s an additional tool. Make sure you still use opportunities such as events and shows to have some face-to-face time with your customers.

Measurement

This is the harder part, we all want to put some great figures against social media performance, but it’s not as simple as methods such as DM and PPC.

  • Do you know more about your customers than you did before?
  • Do our customers know more about us then they did before?
  • Have we been able to engage in conversations we would have otherwise missed?
  • Do our employees work more effectively using social media?
  • Are we able to get useful feedback that was previously unavailable?
  • Are we helping out reputation management?

This can be a huge shift in attitudes and cultures for companies and makes it difficult to start and prove its worth.  Although I’m bias, I really think agencies can help out at the beginning of this journey and gradually take steps back when you’ve found your feet.

Companies can now see the pay-off for social media participation and the accessibility of real, raw data on how you’re doing in your customers eyes is hugely valuable.  You have a real opportunity to speak with your customers but without a strategic approach to social media, it probably won’t be the success you hoped for.

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