For brands attempting to cultivate a believable, relatable online presence, social media marketing is no longer optional. If you arent present on the platforms your audience uses, you run the risk of losing their attention (if you can get it in the first place).
There is often the false assumption that corporate social media is an easy, intuitive task. Like the other aspects of your business, social media requires a plan.
The Medium is the Message
If your marketers arent comfortable using various social media platforms and well-versed in the unwritten rules that guide social media etiquette and best practices, hire someone who is. I would suggest someone who has been using social media personally, someone with a high degree of fluency who tends to be an early adopter. Whoever she is, make sure she gets it.
Contently recently covered Kate Spades use of content and social media, and had the following to say:
The social media manager in charge of @katespadeny maintains a personal voice without coming across as an actual individual a feat easier said than done in the corporate world.
I couldnt agree more. This is an example of social media done right. You want to be perceived as authentic, but if you are a corporate brand you dont want an actual, identifiable individual presenting herself as the brand. A feat easier described than accomplished, here you can see it executed to great effect.
If you pay attention to how and when your fans and followers engage with you, you can determine whats working and what isnt.
Measure your engagement rigorously. Dont rely on vanity metrics like fan and follower counts. Are people more likely to re-share photos or links on Facebook? Which of your links are getting the most clicks? Which of tweets get the most responses and retweets? Facebook Insights for fan pages provides great engagement metrics which you can export cleanly to Excel. Twitter, unfortunately, does not provide much help in this arena, but there are a number of third party tools you can use to track your engagement. Here are six tools recommended by online analytics firm KISSmetrics to measure your Twitter engagement.
One caveat several of these third party services provide cutesy metrics that dont help you measure your success online. Dont get distracted by pretty graphs, focus on actionable data. The next step: take action! Do what works and drop what doesnt. Dont forget to try new things to see whats effective.
Defining and Measuring Success
For most marketers, the hardest part of social media is measuring the return on their activities. In a recent survey by Ifbyphone, only 26% of marketers felt they could measure the ROI of their social media efforts. I dont need to tell you thats not a very high percentage. Part of the challenge is deciding what a successful social media strategy even looks like.
Success will look different for every marketer, as no two social strategies will be exactly alike. This is a great post by Avanish Kaushik on how to think about measuring social media success.
Having a strong social media presence is not the end goal: selling your product or service is the end goal. At the end of the day, social media channels are just communications tools, albeit powerful ones. You dont have a Facebook page just to have a Facebook page. You have one to build relationships with clients, potential clients, and others in your industry.
Ultimately, success means getting people to take the desired action. Make tracking attribution a priority. That said, do not discount the value of a strong community of evangelists, followers, customers and friends. A community who sings your praises is an incredible form of social proof.
Some final words of advice:
Let your data drive your social decision-making, but whatever you do dont sacrifice the believability of your companys social persona.