Are you hiding under your desk scared of what social media could mean for your company? Remember thinking that you are “safe” if you don’t get involved? If there is one thing we hope you realize is that disasters aren’t caused by social media! Social media is what lets you SURVIVE them! No matter how small or how large your company is, your customers are still talking about you! Avoiding the conversations makes you look like you aren’t interested in connecting with your customers. When taking a look at social media, don’t only think about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or MySpace. Think about using these tools to connect with your target audience…social media is about people.
So are you ready to take that leap of faith into the social media world? The only way to start is by developing a social media plan. No plan? Well, let’s get you started – no one is successful without a plan, right?
Define Your Success
You shouldn’t enter into social media unless you know what you want to get out of it! If you aren’t sure what defines “success” for your company, then you aren’t ready! Some examples of metrics are:
* Building buzz and conversation around your product
* Gaining more traffic
* Knowing how your customers view your brand
* Better overall brand awareness
* Leads or blog subscribers
Once you know that, the next step in the planning process is to figure out how you will measure it! Be sure you understand your challenges and goals to determine how “buzz” will be quantified. Are you looking at blog comments, conversions, links, Twitter conversations, or better brand recognition? No measurement = not meeting goals!
Tell Your Story
The best way for you to connect with your customers is to use social media tools to tell them who you are! What are the values your company holds? Are you known for anything in particular or do you have something you want to be known for? Marketing is telling a company story! When your story is being shared by your customers, you know you have been successful because they WANT to be associated with you!
Make sure that you understand who your customers are and where they are located. If you aren’t sure, start some research to find out. Starting with Twitter, search for your brand name, your competitors’ names, your keywords, industry, etc. You will then need to decide if there is enough conversation to start engaging. With Facebook, see if there are Business Pages dedicated to your company or industry. If there aren’t, are there a lot of people who list it as an interest and possibly interested in joining a community on that topic? You can also check out Yahoo Answers to see if people are asking or answering questions.
Rules for Engagement
There might be some times where your company is called names and have some negative comments come from customers, but make sure you set up a strategy for dealing with them! Having ground rules is a must! You also need rules for not just what you will say, but WHO will be in charge of saying it and what their role is. Better to create the rules before you get started and not while the fire is flaming!
Check Your SuccessYou can’t set up your account name on your social media accounts and then just wait for things to happen. You have to make sure that you are engaging with your community, but then also taking a look at your efforts to make sure you have been successful. If you haven’t, what are you going to do to fix them? Make sure you give it time…. Social media efforts start showing their effects about 2-3 months into your plan. When you begin, you start looking at Twitter followers and Facebook fans, but those aren’t the metrics you should be evaluating all the time. You should really be looking if your rankings have increased based on traffic and links, if social media users are actually engaging or converting, and if you have increased awareness about a product that has led to a sale.
Whatever you had outlined as determining “success” before, now is the time to see if you’ve gotten any closer to that goal. If you have, congrats. Keep on doing what you’re doing. If not, figure out what’s broken and fix it. If you can’t do it yourself, you may need some help! I’m sure you know where we will point you ———–> Digital Street!