Social media is any online platform or channel for publishing and disseminating user-generated content. It’s this ability for anyone to create and disseminate content that makes social media so powerful and so social. Social media is a powerful tool from on organizational perspective because it allows us to have transparency and accountability in a way we’ve never had before, in particular with large organizations and government agencies that previously have been inaccessible. Every individual can now publicly state their opinion, whether positive or negative, and because of the public nature of the space, that opinion is often listened to and taken seriously. Social media allows us as individuals to take our environment and engage with it and shape it in a way that I find empowering and exciting. At the organizational level we can take this accountability and transparency and empower people to engage with us and make the services and products we provide that much more useful and impactful. The other aspect of social media that I love is that access to information that we now have at our fingertips. People can now find out a lot of information and our organization, and the services or products we provide before meeting us. That’s why it’s important to have a strong online presence that highlights what your company has to offer.
Now I want to quickly go over some data about social media and how widespread it is. Regardless of your personal feelings about social media, it’s reaching a significant portion of the population and is here to stay, so it’s worth learning about.My goal is to share my passion about social media and provide you with some strategy tools that will help you to feel empowered to begin using social media on behalf of your company so that you can better serve your customers.The most important thing to take away from this training is to be strategic in your use of social media. The best way to ensure you give your social media presence the time it deserves is to take social media seriously, and to learn about it. As you see, Americans spend a lot of their time online and, in particular, on social networking sites. So it behooves your company to meet your audience where they’re at.
The question that a lot of organizations I encounter ask is, “what social media platforms should we be using?” Or, “have you heard of Pinterest, should we be on Pinterest?” However, from my perspective, that’s the wrong first question to ask. The first step any organization should take is to determine who their target audience is, and to develop a strategy centered around that audience. For those of you already on social media, take the time to step back and think about whether or not you have a clear strategy in place, if not, it’s never too late! And just like those organizations that are just getting started, take a people first approach. I encourage everyone to think POST. Today I’m going to walk you through a strategy development process that starts with People, moves on to Objectives, then Strategy development, and last but not least deciding on a Technology, or social media platform. It’s important to take the time to develop a strategy like this because you will have more success with your social media presence, and you will also be able to be intentional. The biggest – and most of the time – only cost associated with using social media is the amount of staff time it takes to manage your social media presence, and so without using this time intentionally it’s either wasted or misdirected. Let’s dive into the first step of the process, but before we do that I have a poll question.
The first step in the process is to select your target audience. Most of you probably already have a sense of your organization’s target audience. If not, once again, it’s never too late! A target audience can be defined as the group of people that your organization targets to benefit from the messages and services your organization provides. Map out who this group is and then segment them so that you can be more specific. Once you have your audience segments you’ll map out specific demographic information such as age, gender, race/ethnicity and household income. Knowing this information will help you to conduct research using the sources I’ve listed here to identify what social media platforms this group uses and why. Of course I encourage you to use national level data from organization such as the Pew Internet and American Life Project, but be sure to also do some surveys and focus groups in your own community so that you find out what people in your community are doing and why.
ABC Construction does medium sized construction projects with businesses. This means that they’re social media marketing will be what’s called “business to business” or B2B marketing because they’re not marketing to home owners, but to other businesses. So in their experience their target audience are businessmen aged 35-44. After going to Forrester they’ve found that this means their target audience is made up primarily of Spectators. Additionally, they can make an educated guess that the majority of their clients are on LinkedIn.
Next I would encourage your organization to map out some goals related to entering social media. A recipe for disaster is to enter social media just because you think you need to be there from a marketing perspective. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to be there from a marketing perspective, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg and if you’re using social media just to market, your audience will sense that and they won’t be interested in engaging with you. Now that you’ve determined who you want to reach on social media, determine why you want to reach them using that particular channel. 1. Listen - enter social media spaces and listen to what people are saying, this allows you to better understand your audience and what their wants and needs are2. Talk - communicate with your audience by sharing content and spreading messages3. Energize - empower influential and enthusiastic members of your target audience that are using social media and have done business with you4. Support - set up spaces and tools to allow members of your target audience that are already using social media to support each other (rather than just receiving support from your organization)5. Embrace - use social media to identify champions in your target audience and bring them into the work your company does
Now that you have some end goals in mind, it’s time to map out how you want your organization to actually go about meeting those end goals. This is where the actionable part of your overall strategy comes into play. • Create a plan that starts small but has room to grow. • Think through the implications of your plan. - Map out sample scenarios that might come up as a result of your engagement with your target audience on social media and then come up with a plan for how to handle them.• Get buy-in from key supporters and stakeholders. - Hold an informational meeting with the people who will be affected by your presence onsocial media and go over the risks and benefits. - Be honest about the risks but come up with ways that you are going to address them.• Put someone in charge of managing your social media presence, preferably someone who hasexperience using social media and understands your company and brand. - Recruit other people to help you monitor your social media presence daily.• Develop social media user guidelines and policies for your organization. - Conduct an internal training for all staff so that they understand the benefits of socialmedia and can start using it to further the goals of the company.• Outline business goals related to your social media strategy and then track those goals as you start using social media.• Develop a communications calendar outlining who will post content on each social media platform at what times on a regular basis.
An important aspect of your strategy that most organizations overlook is the development of user guidelines and internal social media policies. User guidelines are outward facing guidelines. By that I mean, they’re guidelines for your target audience encouraging them to use social media in a certain way. User guidelines help people to frame their experience engaging with your company on social media, they help to develop expectations about what your audience will be getting from your organization on social media, and they help to ensure that everyone remains respectful and kind. This is also important from a legal perspective because you’re able to build in a disclaimer and be very clear about your intentions in utilizing social media. The other important thing to establish is an organizational social media policy. This is an inward facing policy designed to support employees in using social media to support the vision and mission of the organization. Of course you’re going to have your point person who’s managing your social media presence, but it’s also important to encourage and empower all staff – those that are interested at least – to use social media to develop professional relationships, provide better customer service. However, in order to empower your employees you need to be crystal clear about your expectations are and support them in using social media appropriately and successfully. This can be accomplished through staff trainings, and the development of a clear policy that encourages certain types of behaviors and interactions on social media sites. Once again, this is also important from a legal perspective so that you can take action if a crisis occurs, or if an employee is struggling to use social media appropriately. To develop a policy check out… as well as Mashable’s article: 10 must haves for your social media policy
After mapping out a strategy, you determine what social media platforms to use. There are a lot of new technologies out there, and no organization has the capacity to be on them all so you have to choose where you want to spend your time and energy wisely. The best way to determine what platforms to have a presence on is to look at your target audience and determine which platforms are structured in such a way, and are used by your target audience in such a way that you can establish a meaningful long lasting relationship with them. Not only that, but you want to think through how a platform supports your target audience’s ability to engage with other customers. Because social media is really about relationships, think carefully about how each technology supports the development of relationships. The other thing to take into consideration is how and why each platform is currently being used. If your target audience isn’t using the platform, or if they’re using it, but to engage with content that’s not related to what your organization does, don’t be on it! That being said, it’s good to pay attention to new and exciting platforms.
One of the overlooked values of social media is the data that your presence on social media generates. We call the data that we have access to about our social media presence, analytics. Analytics are powerful because unlike so many other things that we engage in, when we use social media we get to have instantaneous data about our success. Of course, the key is making sure that you’re looking at the right data and using it to further your progress to your goals. For example, a lot of organizations focus on how many likes they have on their Facebook page. And though this figure is important, it’s not what I look at to really determine if I’m using Facebook successfully to develop a relationship with my audience and empower them to also develop relationships. Someone liking a Facebook page is a one time action and doesn’t constitute an interaction with your organization. Therefore, on a monthly basis I track interactions such likes to a post, shares, comments, messages, etc. And on Twitter I track mentions, retweets, and direct messages. These are the analytics that help to focus on that bullseye that’s our end goal in using social media.
Now that you’ve gone through POST, you need to think about how to integrate your social media presence across your other communication platforms such as your website and print materials. A lot of organizations make the mistake of thinking that social media exists on it’s own and doesn’t really relate to other aspects of the business. However, the whole point of social media is to make your organization transparent, accessible, and to develop social capital through stronger relationships. And I don’t just mean online relationships, remember to think through how your online relationship translate into solid offline relationships. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your website and all print materials indicate that you have a presence on social media.
The wonderful thing about social media is that it’s all user generated and so it’s open to all of us. We all have the same equal opportunity to become social media experts in our own right because there’s so much accessible information out there about social media. Read books, pay attention on Twitter, and follow Mashable to start learning. These are some great first steps that any organization can take to get started on having a successful social media presence.
To tie it all together let’s revisit ABC Construction and see some great first steps they’re going to take, which I would also recommend all of you take. Based on POST they selected LinkedIn as their social media platform of choice.
How to Develop a Social Media Strategy
How to Develop aSocial Media StrategyThink P.O.S.T.
What is Social Media? Any online platform or channel for publishing and disseminating user-generated content.1 Social media allows us to engage with and empower our communities. Connection Access to information1. http://heidicohen.com/social-media-definition/
Take it seriously! Social media is widespread. In the U.S., social networks and blogs reach nearly 80% of Internet users and represents the majority of Americans’ time online. 1 Half of all American adults are using social networking sites. 21. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/2. http://www.pewinternet.org/Media-Mentions/2011/Half-of-American-adults-use- Facebook- other-social-networks3. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media
Where Do You Start? Develop a strategy that thinks about the big picture. Think P.O.S.T. Social media is not about technology, it’s about relationships. People first!
People Select your target Demographic audience. Map out information how and why your Pew Internet and audience(s) use American Life Project social media. Social Technographic Profile Creators, Conversationalis ts, Critics, Collectors, Joine rs, Spectators, Inactives Surveys and focus groups
Case Study: People B2B Marketing Males 35-44 years old Spectators LinkedIn The average user age is 44 years old. 1 59% of users are male. 2 Your audience uses LinkedIn to market themselves and make professional connections
Objectives What kinds of Map out end goals. interactions do you want to have with Decide on how you want your target to interact with your target audience? audience based on your organization’s end goal(s). Listening Talking Energizing Supporting Embracing
Objectives Case Study Develop end goals: Develop relationships with prospective customers Provide better customer service to current customers Learn how you can provide services Bring your customers into the process of shaping your products and services Think about short term goals: Get 100 new customers through social media
Strategy Plan for how your Create a plan that communication on starts small but has room to grow. social media sites will accomplish your Think through the end goal. implications of your plan. Be honest about the risks. Generate buy-in. Put someone in charge of managing your social media presence.
Policies Develop user guidelines and policies for your organization. Develop a crisis plan to respond to negative or harmful posts. Provide training for all staff on effective ways to use social media. http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies
Technology Social media isn’t about technology, it’s about relationships. Select a technology that enables community members to not only engage with your company but also with each other. Select the technology based on your target audience. Research who uses it and for what reason.
Analytics and Measurement Use data to see if you’re meeting your end goal, and to make improvements. On a monthly basis track interactions. Facebook: likes, shares, comments , posts, people talking about this Twitter: followers, mentions, ret weets, DMs, clicks
Think Across Channels Social media doesn’t exist on its own Think through how your relationships on social media translate into real world relationships Connect your email newsletter, website, offli ne relationships, and social media All channels can serve to enhance the other channels
How to Get Started Educate yourself Play with social media in your personal life Start slow to go far Most companies have Conduct an assessment only had formalized of your organization social media programs Determine how ready for 2.5 years so you’re your organization is to not too far behind 1 launch into social media Begin with popular Decide on a budget platforms like Based on your LinkedIn, Twitter and organization’s social Facebook media business maturity level Develop clear goals 1. http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2011/02/25/social-business-its-like-the-internet-in-1997/
Case Study Provide an internal training to employees Develop simple social media policies and guidelines Focus on LinkedIn – Track where your new make sure everyone has contracts come from a profile Ask how they heard Make sure the profiles about you are appropriate and Ask if they’re on LinkedIn professional Put links to your LinkedIn Put someone in charge Company Page on your Gather Analytics website and other materials Create a Company Page