Social media is relationship and conversation media. At its core is the art of building relationships with others, human-to-human. However, you can’t be everywhere conversing with everyone at the same time. You need to pick your battles. Where you “hang out” digitally, just like any outreach and marketing program, should be driven by where your constituency hangs out.
Define the Objective
Don’t let Nestle’s Facebook Page issues happen to you. Determine how you want to portray your brand socially. You should also develop a plan for engagement in more routine situations. This includes knowing the goals, knowing the business and knowing the voice.
Before beginning anything, the first step is discussing the goals and objectives at the highest level. It may sound simple, but the most important attribute to display here is the ability to listen. Then base the strategy around several big ideas that help solve the challenges unique to each project.
Consider these scenarios: when a blogger raves about your product, how do you turn this goodwill into collaboration that benefits both parties? How do you create customer advocacy programs? How do you internalise and execute on feedback about your, or your competitor’s product? How do you deal with disaffected customers? What about irate bloggers? You need to think through all these scenarios and figure out how you will activate the right resources within the organisation.
Decide Where and What to Monitor
The notion of the social customer should reflect not only your current paying customers, but also potential customers and industry thought leaders. Monitoring can help you figure out where these people are, and therefore what channels are best for you to listen to and engage.
Monitoring is keyword-based, and thus selection of the right keywords is important. At the very least, you should be tracking your company name, brand names, product names, names of key executives, competitor names, competitive product names, industry keywords, and your tagline or most recent marketing efforts (e.g. Did you run a special promotion for St Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day or August Bank Holiday?).
Even the best plans go unrealised without resources. Implementation is something to think about on the front end. Many people consider social media “free”, but in reality it’s a real commitment and requires a lot of time and attention.
Test and Track
After you implement, you need to make sure you’re paying attention to successes, failures and your brand perception.
Conversations are happening across many channels and social networks all over the world. To make matters even more complicated, the signal-to-noise ratio is not in your favor. This is why your monitoring must be intelligent and actionable. You should be triaging all the social media messages that come across your field of vision, so that you can focus on what’s most important.
Some good tools for keeping track of your brand online include: