Now is the time now to create and interact in conversation. While it’s important to know what folks are saying (and why they’re saying it), start with defining how and why you’re going to interact with your audience by doing the following: learn, voice, collaborate, measure and commit.
Make a list of your top 3-5 direct competitors and check in on them frequently. See what they're doing on the platforms you're engaging with and compare apples to apples.
- How often do they update their YouTube channel?
- How do they engage via Twitter?
- What do they use their Facebook brand page to convey?
- What can you learn form what they're doing well and what are they are lacking that you can do on behalf of your brand?
Go even further and check out leaders in the Social Media space such as Ford, Zappos, Comcast and American Express (find more leaders and their social URLs via SocialMedia.org’s Big List). These brands are known for their engagement via social media and are taking risks and reaping the rewards. What are things you can learn from their habits and even their (public, oops!) failures?
Define your brand’s voice and share this internally and with your collaborators. Creating a Social Media Style Guide is a great way to set a baseline for your communicators as well as help you define your audience. If you’re a technology company, it may make more sense to have a more strict voice, while a retail company may be able to be more casual.
As your brand learns and grows, update your Style Guide as necessary, remembering to collaborate, but speak with one voice.
Not every organization has a team just to handle social engagement (if only dreams came true!). It may be that you have to roll ahead, generating your sales pitch internally, to invest in social media - whether that be tools and/or people. But never fear! Start now and use what you have to form a team of internal advocates and a brain trust.
- Who in your organization or via the partners you work with can lend a hand?
- Who communicates out to the press or media?
- Who already participates on behalf of your company on social media sites?
- Who’s the one who tells everyone about everything in the office (or at least the important business-related items)?
If you already have a team (high five!), ensure they know the brand’s voice, but encourage them to use their own communication style - they’re people, after all. Ensure you get regular feedback from your team, no matter who it’s comprised of.
Build from within and practice by engaging internally before engaging externally. Don’t neglect setting up clear leadership that defines the voice and leads - hands-on.
Your users will determine where your brand should engage. Don’t fall into the trap of having a presence just because everyone has one. If your customers are there, you should be there.
So, now that you know where your brand needs to be, it’s time to measure - but what? Define your goals.
- If you’re on Facebook, a “Like” or “Comment” may be a metric
- On Twitter, it may be “Followers” and “Re-Tweets”
- YouTube may lead to “Views” and “Comments”
- What does a Facebook “Like” really mean?
- What is a follower on Twitter - and do they matter? Why?
- Do re-tweets matter? Why?
- What content are users sharing and how?
Define exact metrics you’ll gather and evaluate these regularly. Make sure your definitions are relevant to the social sphere and how users are interacting with your brand. Ensure the metrics are ones you can get and find using the tools at your disposal.
Be frequent in your communication with your audience. If your brand will commit to social, you have to be social.
- Set the pace and tone, clearly committing to keeping things updated, fresh and interesting, just like your brand or thingamabob
- Be ready to answer users’ questions
- Prepare for sticky situations and have workflow defined in order to handle uncomfortable situations in line with your brand’s voice
- Look at sentiments, volume and trends using tools like Brand Monitor
- Have plans to interact to positive, negative and neutral events happening surrounding your brand
Understand that you cannot control what your audience says, you can only control what you post in reply or how you reply privately. Deleting a negative comment can draw more attention than just leaving it alone. If your brand is not ready to take the bad with the good, you may not be ready to engage your audience in the social space.
Start here and you will have a good foundation to become your brand’s lead ambassador. Look at your brand’s social media strategy as a living, breathing thing. Always be ready to learn from those brands around you and from your brand’s own success and failure. Establish your brand’s voice and refine/expand it as the social sphere and your brand’s place within it grows and changes. Lead your team and collaborate. Measure your success and be transparent with your clearly defined metrics. Finally, commit to a long-term strategy that will ensure your brand’s success with social engagement.
- Amelia Kleymann
Sales Engineer, Chicago