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Engagement: Be worthy of being followed.
Engagement should be considered in both its proactive and reactive forms.
While most companies do well at proactively engaging with their own content — posting both new content and conversations, as well as the sharing of content and information from others — proactively engaging with new social media users and reactively engaging with those who comment or respond to your updates is equally important to create an effective social media presence.
“Try to look at your company’s social media profiles from the perspective of an outside observer and ask yourself, Is our engagement with fans worthy of being followed? Would I follow us?" I wrote. "And remember, engagement is a tactic to help you achieve your objective — namely, expanding your brand, attracting new customers and growing your company — not the objective itself. But be encouraged: The odds are in your favor. Sixty percent of Facebook fans and 79 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to recommend brands that they’ve ‘liked’ or followed.”
Listening: Interact meaningfully with customers.
It’s official: The customer service desk has gone digital.
From complaints to questions to praise, consumers (67 percent of them, in fact) are using social media to convey their thoughts, opinions and queries.
But many companies are blowing this golden opportunity.
For example, a recent study showed that 71 percent of customers who complained via Twitter were not contacted by the company.
“Your company needs to have a listening — and responding — strategy in place. Remember that listening means more than merely being on the lookout for complaints to defuse. Every engagement with a social media user is a golden opportunity, because it can give you real-time feedback on what your customers are thinking, liking, needing, buying, etc. You can also utilize big social data to help understand potential future trends for your products and services. And lastly, remember that a meaningful interaction with a customer — a problem resolved or a question answered, for instance — can win you the type of loyalty that money can’t buy.”
Campaign: Regularly introduce new ways to engage customers.
Social media campaigns should not be confused with traditional campaigns that are used in marketing to promote new products or discounts.
Again, in the social media world, you’re not speaking to or at customers; you’re speaking with them.
That being the case, social media campaigns should leverage the social aspect of social media, combined with its viral functionality, to create events that trigger engagement from followers in a new and exciting way.
“Think of it less as a promotional marketing campaign and more of an experiment to better understand — and more effectively engage with — your social media followers. Create and implement new campaigns on a regular basis (I suggest doing so monthly) around revolving themes, such as those aligned with promotional, calendar or seasonal events. Remember to make your campaigns platform- and/or content-specific to help give you more precise data for your future planning. Surveys, quizzes, polls, product giveaways and crowdsourcing (of photos, videos, and other content) are all good examples of campaign types.”
Influencers: Take a cue from other users.
There’s no need to navigate the world of social media on your own.
Use the examples and successes of other users called influencers to help shape your own strategy and make it more effective.
Influencers can consist of individual users, companies, or media outlets that 1) are a part of or serve your target demographic audience, and 2) yield influence online through reporting, blogging and being active on platforms such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“You can use website rankings, social numbers (such as the number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers), social engagement, frequency of engagement and more to identify influencers within your target demographic group. Furthermore, websites like Klout, which scores 400 million users and analyzes 12 billion social signals each day, can provide data to help you measure influence."
“At minimum, influencers provide a source for content curation, and by retweeting their content, you increase the chances that they will notice you and reciprocate the favor, thus broadening your reach in social media. Beyond merely utilizing influencers for content curation and to broaden social media reach, they should also be considered as potential collaborators in future social media campaigns.”
Brand Ambassadors: Recruit fans to spread the word.
Brand ambassadors are current loyal customers and fans who help spread the word about your brand through their own social networks.
They can also act as an advisory board during a crisis.
Harnessing and rewarding ambassadors is a very effective way to help spread the word and value of your brand throughout social media because 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing.
“Whether they are current employees, alumni of your company or loyal fans to your brand, your social media strategy should always be looking for ways to engage — and reward — brand loyalty and amplification in social media."
Crisis Management: Be prepared to handle trouble.
Given the speed at which information travels in social media and the fact that social media is now a primary news source for consumers and the media, it is inevitable that some sort of crisis will occur.
That being the case, your company needs to always be prepared for the worst (such as an attempted takeover of social media channels by fanatics and others with an agenda).
Completely integrating social media into your company’s crisis management planning is a very wise decision: 76 percent of social media crises could have been diminished or averted with the proper social media investments.
“Make sure that your crisis communications plan includes messaging for each of the social media channels you’ll be investing in. Beyond that, make sure that your employees are proficient at (or better yet, expert users of) the social media tools your organization utilizes so that they won’t inadvertently make a crisis worse. Secondly, you should try to proactively build a community of goodwill with followers of your brand. Over time, your word will become more trusted, and more brand advocates will be born; both of which will help lessen the potential negative effects of any crisis.”
“This list primarily looks at the elements of creating a robust social media strategy from a marketing perspective, but some of these components can be easily expanded to help other internal departments achieve their social media objectives. Regardless of your company’s social media goals, though, make sure that you address all of these concepts individually in a written document so that everyone in your company — now and in the future — understands what they are and how they are meant to work together. The clearer you are, the more productive your organization’s social media presence will be.”
Neal Schaffer is author of Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success. Named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row, Schaffer has created social media strategies and trained dozens of companies, from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises. His work has been recognized by the media, appearing in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and more. For more information, visit www.MaximizeYourSocial.com.