Imagine that you are at work (you might currently be at work while you’re reading this, but just go with it). A co-worker comes up to you and says “Hey, I’ve got 10 great tips to help you be more effective at your job!” You would most likely reply, “Great!” I mean, who doesn’t want to be better or more efficient at their job right?
Now imagine that later in the evening, you’ve managed to secure a baby sitter (for the first time in months) and you and your significant other are out at a nice restaurant enjoying each other’s company. Now picture that same person from work approaching you and interrupting your dinner with the same spiel, “Hey, I’ve got 10 great tips to help you be more effective at your job!” You would probably reply “What are you doing here? I don’t care about that right now and I’m trying NOT to think about work!”
That’s pretty much how it comes across when businesses try to push their sales messages or their own agenda on their followers. I know, everyone is talking about social media so you can’t just bury your head in the sand and avoid it. The problem is that most businesses aren’t sure how to approach it. Everything from the software you use to the voice you try to convey for your business can easily lead to missteps. This post will help you navigate these pitfalls so you can dominate Social.
Social Media Strategy – Why it’s important to know what you are trying to say
An important question to ask yourself (and your executive staff) is “Do we believe in Social Media or are we getting into it to sell because we think we have to?” It is easy to think “we need to get into social,” but before jumping in, you need to have a strategy.
Make sure that you are real in the way you communicate with your customers on social. Also, be focused so that you reach the correct audience. Lastly, make sure you have a consistent message and voice.
The importance of consistency cannot be overstated. If you have multiple people posting to your Social Media sites, you need to make sure they all know the rules of the road for posting. Keep the voice consistent across all platforms and from all people involved. It needs to appear that there is one “company voice” speaking to your customers or it won’t seem authentic.
Picking the Right Software – Make Social Easier
There are a variety of Social Media Management tools out there, but one of the most popular and easiest to use is Hootsuite. You can schedule posts in advance across multiple social networks or set up RSS feeds to automatically feed into your Social pages. You can use this to supplement your own posts but make sure you are checking it frequently and contributing good, original content to keep your followers engaged.
Another, more advanced (and expensive) option is Sprout Social. With everything from a single view inbox, to monitoring tools to see what people are saying about you, to the ability to set tasks for other teams members, this is a great tool.
Another tool you should be using is Facebook Insights (located within Facebook). This will show you usage and trends on Facebook. You can use this data to make sure you are tailoring your content appropriately based on the reactions from your fan base.
Social Media Policy – What it is and why your company needs one
More than likely you have an employee handbook with rules for conduct in dealing with customers and co-workers on the job. The Social Media Policy is a similar document that defines the expectations of your staff and collaborators when communicating through Social Media.
Different from the Social Media Strategy, this deals less with the voice or tone of communication and more with what is acceptable from a content standpoint. Everyone has a different opinion on what is appropriate to post on Social networks, but by defining it with a Social Media Policy there is no grey area. If you do it right you can ensure that your online reputation will keep getting stronger, instead of becoming a disaster.
If you are going to participate in Social Media, you need to make sure you do it right. There is a lot of potential to seriously injure your reputation online and hurt your brand as a whole if done incorrectly. However, sitting back and letting the internet control what people think of your business, with no input from you, is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you are constantly educating yourself as well as choosing partners who have a deep understanding of the Social landscape. If you have any additional tools you like or ideas for others regarding Social Media feel free to post them in the comments below!