Monday, June 4, 2012

Social Media 101: Why your business needs a strategy

Since I started my new gig three weeks ago, naturally I've found myself having more and more conversations about social media. It wasn't until I spoke with my neighbor that I realized I am in the 1%. And no, not that 1%. I am talking about the fact that the general population can easily be intimidated (or bored) by those who can spew facts, dream up grandiose ideas, and jump at the chance to chat about the next big internet thing. Since social is so engrained in my very being, these type of epiphanies sometimes baffle me. But it's those a-ha moments that help keep me in touch with the fact that many companies, both big and small, still have no idea how or where to start when navigating the social waters. 
Which is exactly why I think it's important to routinely get back to the basics and brush up on social media 101. Because I can literally talk about this topic F O R E V E R, I'll keep it simple and steer clear of referring to any one particular industry, company, or what may be the "best" approach.  Below is some general info I put together regarding social media, how to get started, and links to a few infographics that I just lurve. So whether you are a "newbie" or consider yourself a season "expert" (a dirty, dirty word in my book but I digress), hopefully this list will help you get started or bring you back down to Earth.

When starting a social media strategy, think about these five things (at the very least):
  1. What is your objective? There is no right or wrong answer. Well, except for "my boss told me to do it." In that case, definitely read on...
  2. Who is your audience? This question can also be answered as "who do you want your audience to be?"
  3. What are you going to say? My biggest pet peeve is navigating to a companies Facebook page, Twitter profile, Instagram feed, etc. to find ancient content that has been updated only a handful of times. If you're going to do it, commit. That means time, resources, and yes, money.
  4. How will you track & measure success? I am a FREAK when it comes to this question. Not having defined KPIs (key performance indicators), goals, milestones, or any other source of measurement tied to your efforts is like going house hunting without a budget: pointless. You have to start somewhere so even if they are moving targets: benchmark, track, analyze, repeat.
  5. Who is going to manage your efforts? Depending on answers to 1 - 4, your organizational culture, and your budget this could be a toughie. My advice to you is beware of the so-called "experts" out there. Find a partner who fits into your goals, can scale with you, and understands your business. <Insert the perfect opportunity to plug my wonderful new company.>
Defining these five things will help you and organization decide which social outlets to leverage (or not) in order to build a community that aligns with your brand, enables you to achieve your objectives, and allow you to create content that will be valuable to your customers, and ultimately, your overall business.

Ideas for starting small-ish:
  • Create a Facebook Brand Page. I do not believe in using Facebook as an alternative to a traditional Web site. However, having a Facebook presence can be a cost-effective option if you are just getting started and looking to grow your social marketing efforts. At the very east, claim your Facebook Place/Brand page which can serve as a general source of information (hours, location, web site, paying methods, parking, etc.) as you work towards bigger, more involved initiatives such as using "the Book" as a customer service tool, for word of mouth marketing, recommendations, customer engagement, yada, yada, yada.
  • Start a blog. Even if you only write one post a week, a blog is a great tool to establish your business as credible, knowledgeable resource. Posting authentic information, stories, and even pictures is another cost-effective way to manage your brand while helping out  the SEO department. Re: search engine optimization, which is particularly important for people who are trying to find you...or your competition.
  • Cross-promote. Include social links on email blasts, direct mail pieces, forms, and any other customer-facing communication to help spread the word. But please, do not misuse the QR code. In fact if you don't know what that even means, keep it that way (at least for now).
  • Don't try to do everything for everyone on everything. Being selective about your social strategy allows you to focus on building effective communities, generate quality content, and interact with your customers in a timely manner. Is your brand visually-driven? Create an Instagram account. Do you want to give your customers quick snippets of information or industry news? Twitter may be the way to go. Is your primary business B2B? You better be on LinkedIn! The truth is, there is a social outlet for just about anything you can think of, the trick is to explore, find what works and then do it well.   
Link love:

PS. For you "advanced" followers, I am currently reading the book "Grouped" by Paul Adams. Definitely a recommended read and will challenge the entire notion of social media as you know it. Get your copy here.

Was this helpful? Do you have questions? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave me a comment!

11 comments:

  1. Great tips! Hope you have a great weekend!

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  2. What great tips for someone who is looking to build a brand! These are all things I have slowly been working on when life doesn't get in the way! haha

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    1. Thanks Alanna! Let me know if you ever need some help :)

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  3. Hey Danielle.. Your thoughts are so much similar to mine. Totally agree with the strategies you have put forward here. If you wish to see my work, drop down to my blog http://www.khushbupandya.com/ where I share similar thoughts.. Have a great day!

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  4. Social media has become an important strategy that businesses should undertake whether you are a small or multinational brand. Thank you for sharing this very informative post about the steps a business should take when it comes to Social Media. Especially the link love portion.

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  5. This is such an interesting post. I love all your tips and tricks that you've mentioned. Having worked with a few brands on their social media strategy I've got to agree with you. It's incredible how little people know and how little understanding there is on how to make social media work. Lots of people treat it as an afterthought and assume it will just be successful without any time/money/thought being put into it. Not so. xx

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  7. Many consider social media optimization a herculean task, which is definitely not true. But if you want it to be truly effective, you have to be driven by goals and objectives. This will allow you to scale your progress and have realistic numbers. Anyway, your tips are spot on. Thanks, Danielle!

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