Social Media has become a trend that cannot be ignored anymore. More so if you have a growing business. Connecting with the public on Facebook, replying to customer concerns on Twitter, and promoting the product through a blog have all become default agendas in the marketing and sales strategies of companies during the last few years. The success of a few corporate giants in the social media forum has spurred on many to take the plunge. However, is everyone equally successful in social media. What are the winners doing right? What can we learn from them?
Here are some things that successful organizations on social media have always done:
1. Planning a Social Media Strategy: Before you take the plunge, ask yourself why you need to do this. What is your objective in forming a social media presence? What will be the purpose of your presence on social media? Do you have enough time to invest in this undertaking? Plan your approach according to your objective, and plan to be consistent in the forums. Be prepared to invest your time and resources in this undertaking.
2. Structure your Online Presence: Do you have accounts on every random social networking site you came across? Does your company profile on one site look different from another? Or is the image of your company or product consistent throughout the social media sphere? If you have two separate agendas for your online presence, keep them as distinct as possible. For instance, if you have one that is based on customer service, promotion and product related activities, and another for employees to socialize, ensure that the two are kept separate. This way people can choose which forum they want to be a part of, and your objective for each page will be understood easily. Also ensure that your profiles on social media networking sites are complete and give genuine information. This way, people know that they are dealing with a genuine company, and that their conversations will be taken seriously.
3. Conversation is Crucial: When we say ‘networking’, it means socializing and forming relationships. Therefore, it becomes essential for any company on social media to participate and listen to the customer or public on social media. As a company, you need to share interesting information and receive feedback from the public. Similarly, try to go to comment or reply to posts, so that people become aware of your presence. Instead of simply setting up an RSS feed for a blog, it would help you build a relationship if you read the post and comment on it.
4. Transparency: Be upfront about your objective for using the social media site. Avoid turning every conversation on social media into a promotional pitch. If you intend to make a pitch, make it clear to your followers or readers that it is the sole objective of that particular post.
5. Share Valuable Information: Make your presence on social media valuable to yourself and your readers or followers. Share information that would help others in making a decision or widening their horizons. Listen to useful information shared by others, be it industry or product related, and comment on it. Let your readers or followers know that you are as interested in what they have to say, as you are in saying your piece.
6. Mingle, Monitor and Manage: Social Media is an open forum, and it is the place where everyone is talking about your product or company. You need to be watching this space very closely. Devise a method through which you can monitor social media content about you. There are many successful media monitoring tools out there. Find yourself one that suits your specific needs. Listen to what people are saying about your company, product and brand image. Provide them with a forum to express their thoughts, interact with those who are sincere in their feedback, converse with the customer and reassure them of the quality of your product or service. Meet head-on the challenges and criticisms that rise on public forums in social media. All this will prove to your customers, readers and followers that you are serious about maintaining a good relationship with the society.
7. Consistency and Commitment: Be consistent in your conversations on social media, and maintain your brand image through out the internet. Be committed to the process of interacting and building relationships on the social media. Set aside the time and resources to carry out this task, as a half-hearted effort will be easily detected and people will react accordingly.
8. Track the Monetary Value: Being a corporate on social media, you cannot afford to ignore the monetary value of engaging in social networking online. As Chris Brogan says, in his interview with SAS’s Deb Orton, if you feel that your other marketing efforts are proving to be more successful already, you need to think twice about plunging into social media. On the other hand, if you need something to boost your marketing and PR campaigns, then social media could be the one thing that makes all the difference. In this video, Chris Brogan talks about this and other best practices for social media.
9. Be Interesting: There are a million interesting things you can do on social media that will increase your visibility and promote you in a positive way in public. Showcase your products, create interest in your events, crowd source your search for innovative ideas and offer exciting prizes for the best ideas. All this, and more, will ensure a place for your company or product in the memory of the public.
10. Courtesy pays: All the rules of living in a normal society apply on social media. When you make a mistake, apologize immediately and sincerely. People are willing to forgive more often than not! Return the kindness shown to you by others. Follow back those who follow you (if they are not spammers!), promote another person’s blog and send some readership their way, link back to a Facebook post that you think is useful, comment positively on posts, respond immediately when a customer expresses discontent or concern. Courtesy never goes out of fashion.
These are just a few things that you could do to get the most out of your social media experience as a corporate and a brand. If there are more that you can think of, add them to the pool in the comments!