During our recent presentation at the MN-AMA’s Get in the Game Conference, we focused on giving people a solid foundation of 101-level social media knowledge. We’ve posted a recap of our presentation here, along with some helpful links and resources.
Where to Start
After defining social media, we assumed everyone in the room had two basic objectives: to establish and manage a social presence, and to define and implement a monitoring and response process.
The steps we suggest for social media success are:
- Define goals
- Set benchmarks
- Educate internal audiences
- Create processes and policies to manage content and conversation
Thinking about social media as a conversation is vital, and “conversation” is a new mindset for many marketers. Social media is not a strictly push tactic: it’s about listening, connecting, and participating. These conversations and connections can be a powerful way to connect with your audiences (both internal and external), but you need to teach internal audiences how to behave this way. Companies, organizations and brands are not used to having two-way conversations with their audiences. They are often structured such that one department “talks” and another department “listens” — and sometimes those two departments barely talk to one another!
When you consider your goals it’s also important to think about the goals of the audience with whom you are trying to connect.
Keep in mind when defining your goals it’s hard to measure ROI in the ways that you are used to. Often there is no clear call-to-action with social media, and you might have to do some listening before you can make clear goals.
In many cases, old measurement models don’t quite fit. Luckily, lots of new ways of thinking about how to measure social media are beginning to emerge.
It’s never a good idea to jump into the internet with no strategy or direction in mind, and it’s important to set benchmarks and checkpoints to compare to in the future. Sounds familiar, right? It’s not like this approach is new, but because social media is “The Next Big Thing!” far too many marketers seem to be jumping into the tactics without enough strategic forethought.
At the very least, you can start listening to what’s being said in a variety of social networks to gauge the overall number of conversations and get a sense of whether the energy is bad or good.
Initially, the idea of monitoring Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. can seem overwhelming. The good news is that for most brands it doesn’t have to be! There are many free tools like Twitter Search, Google Alerts, and RSS feeds and, for many brands, it’s possible to start with a homegrown monitoring solution. (Later, as you start getting more comfortable with social media monitoring, you might consider a paid service or agency.)
Below are some guides on how to set up and use different monitoring services:
As a company, you should also be thinking about implementing a social media policy so employees have a clear understanding around what is okay to share, and what the “voice” of the company or brand in the social media space is. A great way to get internal audiences involved is to host a bootcamp or workshop to educate employees about their role in representing the company or brand.
Create Processes & Procedures
In addition to educating audiences, you need to make sure that your company has some sort of internal process for responding to conversations in social spaces. Once you start listening, you’re going to want to talk! So, who approves those responses? How do you handle any possible legal issues? What do you respond to, and what do you ignore? What is the voice and tone of your company or brand?
Again, depending on the size of your organization, these processes don’t have to be overly complicated. But, it’s good to think through the questions before you dive in. Here’s a wonderfully simple example of a local restaurant doing social media “right.”
Get in the Game
The last thing to remember is that you’re not alone: there are plenty of other companies and professionals out there trying these tools for the first time, and there are lots of resources and people out there to help you. Our goal is for everyone to feel like no question is stupid when you’re trying something new. Drop us a line and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
This post was cross posted at the MN-AMA blog.