Social media is a great tool, but unless you have a plan, it can be a huge waste of time and money. (Even when tools are free, using them costs your time.)
As you begin planning your strategy for integrating social media into your organization, it is important to begin with these three concepts:
1. Integrate social media across your communications efforts. Unless your social media fits into your larger marketing strategy, it will never be effective.
- First, strategize which social media channels you should be using. Research your audience to see where they are and then focus your efforts in those avenues.
- Make sure every email newsletter has links to the social media outlets you are using, such as your Facebook page, Twitter and Google+ profiles.
- Integrate those same links into your print pieces.
- Consider a corporate blog. Fresh content always improves search results for your website. It also allows your audience to see how you think and why you are offering what you offer. Make sure your corporate blog is very easy to find, through links on your website that are impossible to miss.
- When giving presentations, always provide links your social channels at the beginning and end of your slideshow.
- Photos, audio and video are social media too! Each of those channels allow you to connect with your audience in ways that words never can. But if you use those channels, make sure the quality is high. Low quality presentations can greatly undermine your message.
2. Advocates tell your message better than you do. If you have a product, concept or service that you believe in, begin connecting with potential end users. “In real life” connections easily beat email and Facebook interactions.
- If there is a trade show in your field, go there. Meet people. Ask how you can serve them, and mean it.
- Find and connect with those who already influence your target audience. Read and comment on their blogs. Call them to see how you can share resources.
- Don’t be afraid to give away your product or service to those who could be an advocate. Do this carefully, as influencers are often overwhelmed with offers of free stuff in return for a blog post. You must really sell them on the value of what you’re offering, even though they’re getting it for free.
- Build internal advocates. If you can identify evangelists within your organization and across several departments, your message will come from varied voices. Your audience will grasp your message better it sounds like it was written by real humans. However, make sure that the message is unified! As you spread out social media work across your organization, have a social media standards document in place to ensure that content creators are all on the same page.
3. Always monitor the results of your efforts. That’s the only way you can tell what is working and what isn’t. Questions to ask:
- Is our content interesting to our readers? You can measure the number of comments on your blog posts and how many times your content is shared.
- Is our content unique? Be sure that your content is different in a good way. Discover areas that your competitors haven’t thought of yet.
- Does our content draw the reader in? Ask questions that will bring a response.
Monitoring your efforts also involves listening to what people are saying about you. Set up Google Alerts emails to let you know when others are talking about you on the web.
Google Analytics is a powerful (and free) tool that lets you see how people are getting to your website, which content is being read the most and which parts of your site are clicked on.
There are a lot of things you can do with these ideas. Start with your strategy and then prioritize what you need to do from there. Dive in and have fun!