The term social suggests a connection, something that is friendly, inclusive and associative in nature. The term social media suggests a connection, like never before! Personally, it gave people a platform to make new friends, find old ones while sharing thoughts, ideas, feelings or dreams, an online diary if you will. Professionally, it took the unidirectional thrust of marketing and changed it to a back-and-forth interaction. It completely changed the way companies engage with their customers.
Today, whichever industry you belong to, a social media presence is almost a prerequisite. But many companies have been taking baby steps due to it being an unfamiliar realm. They are still trying to comprehend the reach and impact of social media and whether it deserves a chunk of the marketing budget. For some organizations a social media strategy evolved in a fire-fighting mode when they received negative feedback that they had to respond to.
In order to succeed in the social media sphere you need to understand what the best practices are and what tactics you can use to create a successful social media strategy.
One of the most important things is to listen to your customer. Only when you know what the customer wants or appeals to the customer, can you create quality content that will drive engagement. A great guide to a better understanding and thereby better planning is the REALLY framework which defines the TIGOMA process
Target Audience: Who are they, what do they do?
Influencers & Competitors: Understanding the influencers and competition, what social media applications they are using, their community size and engagement
Goals & Objectives: Clearly defining your goals. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based (SMART)
Message: The message or brand image that the company wants to create
Analytics: Keeping track. Understanding exactly how you are performing on different applications and in terms of engagement
Gaining a more thorough understanding through tools such as the Groundswell Tool and COBRA (Consumer Online Brand Related Activities) which categorizes social media usage into
- CONSUMING: viewing, listening, watching, following brand related information
- CONTRIBUTING: rating products, commenting and engaging on blogs/posts and
- CREATING: publishing, uploading, creating brand related information.
Once you start establishing relationships, you should be able to maintain the trust that your audience has put in you. While posting something once a day is good, just that may not be enough. Are you responding to certain tweets but not others? This could indicate a lack of engagement consistency, and it could be off-putting for to your followers and audience.
However, one of the most important aspects of consistency is the tone. While posting frequency, timing and engagement are all important, you want to ensure that there is consistency in your tone across your business’ social media accounts, for your brand voice is what develops your relationship and loyalty with the audience.