Jump Start your Company’s Social Media Strategy
By: Reva Nelson
It’s clear that social media -- and social media recruiting -- is here to stay. Every business needs to be part of the conversation.
Whether you’re new to social media or a pro, an effective social media program can broadcast both your company and employment brand. It may also help stock your sales funnel.
Tackle these four fundamentals and you’ll be off and running.
#1: Start with a clear-cut strategy.
A clear social media strategy can help maximize your efforts from the outset. Start with your goals:
- Identify your top priority and focus on it.
- Who do you want to reach? How do they use social media?
- Do you want to drive traffic to your website or store -- or both?
- How can community engagement help support these goals?
As you formulate your strategy, be selective in the social media channels you choose. “If you don't know that right upfront then you're just going to shoot into the void. That's what you definitely don't want to do,” says Patrick Gillooly, Director of Digital Communication and Social Media at Monster, in a recent social media strategy podcast. “You don't want to just join these social channels and say, ‘I've got to be there because everybody says I've got to be there.’"
Gillooly adds that not every platform is appropriate for every type of business. For example, “Instagram is really hot right now and if you're a restaurant, absolutely, you should be on Instagram. But if you're a dry cleaner, not so much.” He recommends asking yourself, “Is this a space where I can grow my clientele?”
Hint: Facebook is a great place to start for most small businesses, since it’s so widely used. Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are also central to certain industries.
#2: Pay attention to governance.
It's important to set up a clear set of roles and responsibilities for your social media activities. For example, who will handle day-to-day postings?
If you plan to tap your employees to generate social media, make sure you have a social media policy in place so that everyone involved knows the expectations for communicating via social media. Be sure to address issues such as:
- Who needs to approve before posting?
- What types of posts are appropriate? What types of posts are not appropriate?
- How will we handle negative feedback, if and when it arrives? Hint: This comes with the territory, so be ready.
Even if the answers seems obvious to you, it may not be as obvious to your younger employees, It’s better to err on the side of over-communicating social media at work.
Traci Failla, a Chicago-based messaging consultant and writer, adds that a social media policy can align your employees’ personal social media platforms with the company.
For example, if your employee deals with a particularly difficult client and then posts about that client on their personal account, it can create unwanted headaches for your business. “Make sure anyone working for you understands what is appropriate and inappropriate to post,” says Failla.
#3: Understand the function (and value) of social media. Effective social media is a venue for sharing information and ideas, engaging customers, fostering community and more; a conversation.
Respect the fine line between customer engagement and what could be considered spam. Where is that line? Follow the 80/20 rule: aim for using less than 20% of your posts to promote your business and use the other 80% to inform and engage your customers.
Nellie Akalp, CEO and founder of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service based in Southern California, agrees. Active on many social media platforms, Akalp admits, “My biggest issue with social media at first was understanding how to use it as a small business owner. I wanted to constantly push out sales, coupon codes and our services.”
She quickly realized that this wasn’t an effective approach. “Once we changed our voice and found that niche, we found great success with sharing helpful content, which eventually leads people back to our services.”
#4: Take personal ownership of your social media, even if it’s outside your comfort zone.
While you might be tempted to pass your company’s social media efforts on to a social-savvy junior member of the team -- or alternately, an outside firm -- you will be handing over the conversation to someone else.
The best person to manage your company’s social media efforts is someone who knows the business and industry extremely well -- ideally, you.
It may take less time for you to learn the basics of social media than it will for that recent college grad to learn your business. “If that person doesn’t know and understand your business and your industry, it doesn’t really matter if they know how to set up a Facebook page,” says Failla.
“If you want social media to work, you have to be the expert and get out there. Establish yourself by being out there, networking, engaging with problems you can solve,” concludes Akalp. “Once people see you as an expert, they are more likely to buy from you.”
All of which could help dissolve any anxiety you may have about sending your first-ever tweet.