By Sue Brady
So you want to get started but you feel like there’s so much you aren’t sure of. How do you uncover the hidden treasure that is social media? Do some reading on the topic, starting here, and you’ll be on your way in no time. It’s not as hard as you may think!
- GOALS. Establish your social media goals. What do you hope to accomplish with social media: are you looking for awareness, loyalty, sales, customer service opps? Whatever you decide, this will drive your presence online. Your goals help you determine the type of content you post to promote the behaviors you want to see, and also help you determine the places where you should have a presence. Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to post content that will be shared. In that case, the goal is customer engagement as measured by shares. Or let’s say your goal is to drive traffic to your website. In that case you would be including links to pages on your site, and you’d measure clicks on that link.
- AUDIENCE. Next you need to figure out where your audience is: where do they like to go online? I heard a great way to do that last night from Brad Farris at Anchor Advisors:
- Compile a Twitter list of your ideal customers and follow them
- Capture all of their tweets for 10 or so days
- Sort out all of their tweets that have links
- Visit all of those links and identify if there are common sites, or types of sites, among the group.
- EDITORIAL CALENDAR. Develop an editorial calendar to keep topics you want to write about organized. This will also help you remember that specific keywords are important in order for your posts to gain traction with the search engines. There are many templates that you can find on the Internet, but what’s most important is that the calendar has what you need. My calendar is very simple. I keep an Excel spreadsheet that has dates down the left hand side and the following categories across the top: Author, Title, Status (ie, written, published), 3-5 Keywords or Tags, Category (general topic of the post), and Notes. I have a separate tab for each site I post to (Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.). This will also help ensure you are posting with sufficient frequency. If you have nothing of interest to post, it’s best not to post anything that hour/day/week.
Make sure that your content is relevant to your audience. Give your customers and prospects a reason to return to your site. Interesting and useful content is a way to do that. Also, remember that some content does not necessarily translate well to different social media sites, so make sure you are creating your pieces with a specific posting destination in mind.
- ANALYTICS AND MONITORING. Set up analytics and monitoring. From the start, you’ll want to understand what is happening with the content on all of your sites. Use analytics to determine if you are meeting your goals and to drive further engagement. You can track what’s been successful and replicate it to drive future success.
Make sure you monitor all of your sites to hear what your customers and prospects are saying and to answer any questions being directed to you. Monitoring can help you nip a problem in the bud (see point 6 below).
There are many sources for social media monitoring that also include analytics. Some examples include: Hootsuite, Salesforce, Meltwater, and Brandwatch, and there are many others. Google Analytics is of course widely used as well on the analytics side, so read about how you can use it. Read reviews, sit through some product demos, and determine what would work best for you.
- SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. It’s important to have a social media policy for your employees. This policy should be a part of your overall employee policy document and cover things like: code of conduct for your company, roles and responsibilities of employees who will be posting, who can post on behalf of the company, company policies such as the treatment of confidential information, external laws if appropriate, and best practices for online behavior. You’ll want a lawyer to review your policy to make sure all is good. Here’s an example of a well-written social media policy by Coca Cola: (source: Andy Sernovitz)
- NEGATIVE COMMENTS. Be prepared to hear negative comments from customers. Sooner or later, everyone gets them. The key is to have a plan for dealing with them. I’ve already posted about Handling Trolls here. Not only should you yourself have a plan for dealing with these comments but you should also make sure your management is forewarned. You don’t want an upset CEO calling you because they read something negative and want you to remove the comment immediately. Negative comments are to be expected. The trick is to handle them well and quickly, so that they will have little importance and visibility. And removing the comments is really a last resort option, as you don’t want your readers to doubt the honesty of the site.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Monitor your results and over time you’ll figure out what works best for you. You’ll learn things from your customers you’ve never even considered. Talk about a treasure trove of information!