When talking to small businesses about social media strategies and community management not all of them have the budget to outsource it, so want some tips on pulling together an in-house team to look after it. It's during these discussions I get asked the same questions time and time again:
- Why do I need a social media strategy?
- What do I say and where do I get the content from?
- Who will do it?
- What do all those funny symbols in Twitter mean?
- Should I tweet as myself, or as the company?
- How do I get more followers?
- Why do I need a Linkedin page?
- Is Facebook right for business?
- What if someone says something bad about me?
So where do you start?
The first thing to do is to work out if Tweeting or blogging is actually right for your business, and more importantly for your audience. Then, all you need to do is train and trust your team to deliver the right messages and to a pre-agreed schedule.
Therefore, before you write a single update, post or tweet, it’s worth having a look at how social media fits with your overall marketing strategy, and how it will be received by your audience. There are some simple steps you can take before you go anywhere near the keyboard:
- PLAN: Decide the strategy (the audience, the content and the frequency).
- DELEGATE: Decide who is doing what (roles and responsibilities).
- METRICS & MEASUREMENT: Agree what success will look like (and how it will be measured).
What do you say to who and how?
If you have had professional help designing your marketing plan, there will most likely have been a discussion around whether social media is right for you and your audience.
What prospects and customers think and do before, during and after a sale affects what you say how and when. This is content and frequency. Wrong content and they won’t listen. Too often or not often enough and expect disengagement.
According to Watertight Marketing a considered purchase* (rather than an impulse buy) looks like this:
- AWARENESS: People are are not particularly in the market for a purchase, but they are thinking about buying something… What we want them to think: “I keep seeing that company everywhere”. What we want them to do: Make a mental note of your company and products. You’ve got about 5 seconds of their time here.
- INTEREST: They have actively decided to start researching for a purchase. They may not know where to find a suppler, so turn to the internet and peers for advice. Think: “I’ve heard of that company – I’m going to check them out”. Do: Put you on their research short list. You’ve got about 5 minutes here.
- EVALUATION: They’ve been recommended some companies and done some of their own research. Think: “I’ve read some stuff about them and I’m going to give them a call’. Do: Make contact in person, or via a web contact us form etc. You’ve got about half an hour here.
- TRIAL: They’ve actually bought something from you, had a demo, or spent time with you (face-to-face meeting). They are still checking you out. Think: “I like this company, I hope they look after me”. Do: Buy or buy again. You’ve got about an hour here.
- ADOPTION: They buy a second time, or sign-up to a regular commitment/purchase. A monthly direct debit for example. Think: “I’ve made the right decision – I LOVE this product”. Do: They tell all my friends and look out for all your new stuff too. Could this be a lifetime?
- LOYALTY (how not to forget customers): They are thinking of leaving or wondering why you don’t keep in touch… Think: “I haven’t heard from them in ages, they must think I’m not very important”. Do: They might jump ship if they can find a better offer. Just do all of the above all over again.
*Based on Philip Kotler’s model for rational decision making: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Kotler
When working with teams, having them understand your customer’s state of mind at each stage of the journey will most definitely influence what they might (or might not say) on social media.
Social media is perfect for the awareness stage of the journey. It has its uses elsewhere as well, but for the purpose of this article, we are focusing on awareness.
2. ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Who does what when?
Any member of your tour team can be either administrator and/or editor of corporate accounts, but they can also be themselves and interact with your brand as employees. Rules of engagement may well be different, but a lot of social medias about giving employees freedom and trust… A few simple rules and they’re off!
Everyone can help here, but make sure your team knows the difference between tweeting as themselves, and tweeting as the company. Professional tools like Hootsuite can help with multiple accounts and, multiple administrators:
- Set some rules about the language and tone that can be used when tweeting as the company. Also agree what is ‘not OK’.
- Brainstorm and agree the themes and topics that you will address on Twitter. A lot of this can be pre-scheduled to take away the daily burden and ‘ad-hoc’ tweeting can be fitted ‘live time’ in between. Make sure everyone knows the plan.
- Don’t be salesy.
- Do use imagery.
- Do agree and use hashtags.
- Do link to deeper content.
- Don’t make it all about you.
- Do make sure your team understands the ‘functional’ side of Twitter and the etiquette of the Twitterverse. You can get it wrong and look unprofessional.
- The same goes for understanding how tweets relate to other conversations and content. You don’t want to leave your readers mystified by a tweet that doesn’t make sense (or has bad spelling and grammar).
- Agree the bare minimum of activity you expect from each person.
Again, something for everyone, but keep in mind their Linkedin profile is there personal profile. Be sure they are proud to be associated with your business:
- Give them content to share. If you have blogs or white papers to share, tell them.
- Suggest groups they could join and encourage them to contribute.
- Ask them to recommendations for the work they do for your company.
- Encourage them to get their profiles up to ‘expert’ level and even provide them with some copy & paste copy for their profile.
- Agree the bare minimum of activity you expect from each person.
Linkedin company or group:
Someone needs to own a group or company page. Ask for volunteers, but only when you have agreed your basic overall strategy, and if you have the content and resource to keep these types of pages current (advanced training on manageing Linkedin in pages would probably required here).
Facebook dips in and out of fashion for business and is mainly a paid-for channel these days. However, being there and being relevant can’t be a bad idea, and there are new technologies emerging the can be of benefit (see targeting ads). See ‘manage Ads’ in your page’s settings:
- Weekly competitions.
- Targeted and Retargeted ads.
- Photo competitions and stories.
Please note: Other channels and platforms apply. These suggestions are for illustration only.
3. METRICS & MEASUREMENT
How will you know if it’s all working?
Return on Social Media investment is really hard to measure. You can set some basic metrics and keep an eye on them every month. E.G:
- How many followers.
- How many posts liked.
Trial and error will soon find where your audience hangs out. Just be there and give them great content. Things your team can do to get the ball rolling:
- Based on your strategy, have them set-up a personal account for the channels that you are planning to use (most channels guide you through sign-up from their home page).
- Ask them to set aside time in their calendar once a week form some social media activity. It can be a little as 20 minutes a week. And with the right sized team, you can cover everyday of the week. This could cover weekends and out of office hours as well.
And finally, some answers to those questions:
- Why do I need a social media strategy?: There is no doubt that the world is web crazy and these days everyone seems to carry the internet in their pocket (smartphones). So you need to be right there in their pockets. Social media is just another tool to reach your audience who hang out in that space. Social media should be an integral part of your marketing mix – as long as you research the benefits first, and understand where it fits in your sales process.
- What do I say? Where do I get content from?: Anything you say in your marketing literature can be said on social media But the forum is more about conversations and talking to your followers. However always only give them rich content that’s 80% around your industry and business. It’s OK to be you, but you are selling something – even if you just look at is as selling your customer service. The golden rule though, is don’t be salesy! Start with a brainstorm session with your team. Is there something you can do around seasons, or even an A-Z type of approach – thinking up themes based on letters of the alphabet. A big thing to remember is that social media is a very visual platform. Where ever you can use imagery and infographics to really get the message across.
- What do all those funny symbols in Twitter mean?: Twitter are the best people to tell you about this. Go to thier help files and search 'guide to Twitter'.
- Should I tweet as myself, or as the company?: Depending on your strategy, if you are new to Twitter, start by looking and learning as your self. With some training and the right guidelines most sales, customer services or marketing based roles can learn how to tweet on behalf of a company.
- How do I get more followers?: Work hard and have a great content and frequency plan. Where you tweet they will follow and get the whole team on board. Surround your plan with other activity and promote your twitter account wherever you can. And finally, unless you are Coke or BMW – NEVER buy a list of follows.
- Why do I need a Linkedin page?: Linkedin is a professional version of Facebook. If you sell to business, then those businesses may well be on there too. Use it as a forum to showcase you knowledge and expertise. Use it to research and generally stay in the loop. And most of all, do it brilliantly t show of how brilliant your company is.
- Is Facebook right for my business?: Facebook is such a powerful platform and the regretting capability it has is phenomenal. Don't rule Facebook out, but get some proper advice to see how it fits in with your overall plan, and how much a of a priority it is to use over other platforms.
- What if someone says something bad about me?: If you had a written complaint about you, your product or service, you would deal with it professionally and with courtesy. The only difference with social media is it’s more public. Posts can be deleted, but better you publically display your killer customer services skills and convert a troll to a fan. You can always take conversions offline.