Everybody’s full of social media advice and best practices these days. So a few weeks ago I asked my peers in the Social Media Marketing group in LinkedIn to share their one piece of advice about social media based on their global experience. In this blog post I want to share some of those insights with you.
When I started to reflect on some of their advice I was reminded of the vows I made on my wedding day. I do wonder how much we acknowledge the vows we make in the context of our business/customer relationships.
Social media engagement is a long-term commitment
“For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part.”
Social Media is unique in that it allows you to engage instantly but we need to be prepared for the long-haul.
Look at it from a customer perspective. You’re having a conversation with a company about products, services and suddenly the company stops talking. The company has essentially thrown you out and shut the door on your face never to return except every once in a while to shout at you that they have a new blog post. As a customer how would that make you feel?
As with all relationships, you need to maintain on-going communication. Customer service never ends, tech support never ends, customer engagement and interaction never ends so why should the communication with your customers.
What most businesses fail to understand is that social media marketing is not like traditional marketing in any way… it’s more close to the new “inbound marketing” philosophy that is taking over the marketing space similar to how sales 2.0 is taking over the sales space.
We need to be committed to seeing our social media efforts through and to making the neccessary investments to make this possible.
Implicit in the definition of relationship building is the idea of adding value to the transaction, going beyond simply being an order taker to being an asset in the business or personal lives of your customers.
The hard sell is pretty old and most people don’t go for it anymore, most are becoming savvy enough that it’s difficult to go for the hard sell as people can sense it and don’t feel comfortable with it.
Jeff Thull, President and CEO of Prime Resource Group and author of “The Prime Solution” in the context of sales methods says that “we must think for our customers, creating revenue-building solutions that the customers can’t come up with on their own. Everyone in the organisation should be concerned about creating and capturing value for the customer.”
The functionality of the web has changed; it’s no longer about having a website and directing people to it. It’s about being where the conversation is and offering up meaningful advice. Follow then lead when you find your voice, or your unique contribution and be consistent with rich content relevant to the audience you are targeting.
Pull people to your company instead of pushing the information at them.
Have a clear and strong objective
Everyone will admit that objectives are important but most of us are familiar with the old quotation, “Having lost sight of our objective, we redoubled our efforts.” I am sure just as many of us will admit to having been caught in this situation at one time or another.
We understand that consumers don’t respond to misguided marketing efforts or sloppy campaigns, how could we expect our customers to react any differently if our social media marketing has no direction—or it has too many directions. This can be especially frustrating when it comes to a social media because this relies so heavily on brand awareness and audience interaction.
Common objectives range from driving web site traffic to increasing customer engagement or we often start just with the general goal of letting everyone know who we are and what we are about.
Below are some initial thoughts on developing your social media objectives:
- Reflect on your current presence online
What is your audience telling you? Read comments, look at your metrics and find out how your audience is reacting and interacting with your brand through social media. Take a look at your numbers over the past couple of months; see how many followers you’ve gained, what kind of links they have been sharing or clicking on, and what response overall has your audience provided.
- What do you hope to accomplish through social media?
Use the information obtained through listening to your audience and examining the current state of your social media strategy to outline clearly defined objectives. For example, do you want to increase your target audience? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you want to increase your visibility?
Measure your effectiveness
Social media is a game-changing business platform for those with a clear purpose and the right tools to measure the “effectiveness” of their efforts
If measuring success is something you’re serious about, you have to solve the measurement mechanism problem first. If you want to increase customer retention but don’t know how you’re defining or calculating that metric, that’s the place to start.
What you measure is entirely dependent on your objective. If your objective is better customer service, you measure things that indicate customer satisfaction like reviews, sentiment, positive comments/feedback, decreased “incident” reports from the call centre. If your objective is brand awareness, you measure things like website traffic, share of conversation, media placements, volume of online chatter, or even standard market survey results.
Don’t try to measure every possible combination, pick three solid metrics that are relevant to your objectives and worry about those. Measurement is about tracking progress or the lack thereof, not analysing things to death.
The reality is that marriage is not as simple as it seems and the same can be said of social media. It takes a long-term commitment, a focus on bringing value to the relationship, a clear objective and a means of measuring your progress.
I think it is important to state that social media is also not the be all and end all. Social media is one connection channel that needs to be integrated with other media channels to get engagement with a consumer.