If your company is not utilizing social media in some capacity, it is not taking advantage of a valuable tool to engage with its target market. Social media is still quickly evolving from a place to just simply communicate to an environment that can help inform and promote brand messaging. Many people follow companies to stay in the loop on products, promotions and progress, more than to just belong to a community. For example, Coca-Cola’s page is one of the top “liked” 2013 companies on Facebook (with 72m likes) but few people follow the brand to talk about drinking soda. The real interaction revolves around corporate social responsibility and promotions that drive engagement. Customers care about what is going on in the background.
Launching a social media campaign sounds easier than it is though. If a proper plan is not put in place, the results can be less than impressive. No company wishes to increase business investment in social media to obtain only close friends and employees as pitiful followers.
That’s where these simple initial steps come in for a successful social media launch:
Stay focused. With so many platforms available (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, the list goes on) identifying the right one for your business is crucial. Follow the leader here, find where your competitors are investing their efforts by conducting a “social audit”. Identify your target audience, key influencers and competitors in your category but most of all follow your intuition. Think like your target audience: If your company specializes in tech software for B2B markets, does it make more sense to get on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook?*
Strategize. Get a team to run social media for you. Social media is a real-time, open communication, collaboration and dialogue. As a founder or managing member, all of your efforts should revolve around building your brand and running operations for your company to keep growing. You need a team dedicated to the very time-consuming task of rapid response and message controls. If a topic in your category gets hot, you want to be a part of that discussion but it cannot take away from day-to-day activity. Let us PR pros handle this for you, it’ll give you piece of mind and allow you to focus on the details behind running a business!
Voice. Engagement is key. You want your messaging to echo your target audience’s voice. Social media has the unique ability to humanize a company’s brand. Once you establish a non-generic tone you’ll notice real personality in your fan-base’s response to posts. This is your company’s chance to create a more relaxed personality that cannot be achieved through traditional advertising and PR. It also acts as a more informal way to obtain feedback that your company can respond to and quickly mitigate before issues build.
Goals. There are tangible and intangible goals that can be achieved through social media utilization. It is imperative that your company and its PR representatives are aligned and understand the desired outcome. Do you want to generate more buzz around a new product launch? Is your company brand new and in serious need of followers to get your brand out there? Is your offering difficult to understand and in need of clear messaging and open dialogue for customers to voice their opinion? Are you conducting damage control when something does not go as planned? Are you trying to boost sales or obtain more clients? All of these are important questions to figure out before launching a social media campaign.
Metrics. Measuring success should be based on your company’s initial goals (see above). The rules are yet to be written in the social world so defining success based on your parameters in the beginning are key. Was generating buzz, increasing conversation and overall brand awareness a goal? Then observe not only the number of fans your company page obtained, but the level of engagement as well. If you are utilizing SEO to measure the amount of visitors your website has had since launching a social media campaign, make sure to look at unique monthly visitors or the amount of click-throughs. What really matters in metrics based on your marketing goals is critical to understand. Social media success can also be measured in more tangible ways as well, such as meeting actual sales goals.
Now get out there and be social, nobody likes a wallflower!
* Holding all other variables, LinkedIn and Twitter would be your best bet.