If you want your social media strategy to have a major impact, you’ll need to incorporate these four steps along the way:
- Get every department onboard: Historically, companies with successful social media strategies (e.g., Zappos, Best Buy, PetSmart) have made it a point to push the idea as a company-wide initiative. Gaining buy-in from everyone at the company increases the amount of feedback you receive, the number of prospects you attract, and the overall effectiveness of your social media pages. It also minimizes the chance you’ll end up clashing with other departments, which may be operating social media pages/feeds independent of your own.
- Study what competitors have done first: Knowing what’s worked (and what hasn’t) is a great way to avoid rookie mistakes during the initial stages of building an online following. Monitor top competitors’ Twitter feeds, take note of what they’re posting on their Facebook pages (and what type of response specific types of posts generate). Use these as a gauge to determine what type of content you’ll focus on, then use those ideas to springboard into other areas. Finally, look at how other companies in your industry are attracting more friends/followers. Are they running contests? Offering incentives (e.g., online discount in return for following the company on Twitter, etc.)? How effective is each campaign?
- Determine where your prospects are congregating: Take a few days (or perhaps even weeks) to make a list of what type of groups, pages, events and message boards top prospects are affiliated with. Trolling these pages on a regular basis could help you generate dozens (or perhaps even thousands) of new leads. Posting expert commentary to these pages not only boosts your credibility, it also establishes your company as one that understands its customers. You may also want to keep track of the jargon members of these groups (or pages) use on a regular basis. A big part of online networking is speaking the customer’s language. If they see you as one of their own, they’ll be much more inclined to pay attention to what you have to say.
- Have metrics in place to monitor the effectiveness of your campaign: Social networking may be all the rage these days, but most companies want to see results, especially if there’s a significant amount of time, resources and money hinging on the campaign’s success. Determine what the goal(s) of your campaign is first, then work backwards. If you’re trying to attract more followers, your key metric is simple. If you’re trying to attract high-probability leads, you may need to go a little deeper. If you’re trying to boost revenue via a sustained, ongoing marketing campaign, you’ll need to monitor how much incoming revenue is specifically tied to the campaign itself. Regardless of the case, know which key metrics you need to monitor, know what your benchmarks are, and set up short-term goals along the way, so you can adjust accordingly based on performance.
Source: “How to Overcome 4 Social Media Headaches,” by Lee Odden, TopRank, 2/16/11.