A little more than five years ago we started our efforts in social media on an obscure website called Facebook. It was a step into uncharted waters at the time, but there was something about directly connecting with customers in real-time and getting instant feedback that felt right. But even back then it was important to put a plan in place and navigate carefully. Today, brands and professionals have been embracing social media and becoming more effective at integrating these tools into their paid and earned communications.
Since we started our efforts we have expanded and I have learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t and how to build content. Here are five things that I’ve personally taken away during this time and why they matter.
- Have a plan. Without a road map of what you want to accomplish with social you may accidentally move forward, but that won’t last long. You need to have a goal for what you want to accomplish with all that you are doing. It can be as simple as drive traffic to your website or as complicated as connecting your individual sales team members to customers.
- Content does matter. If you have a choice of posting something every day versus one really compelling piece of content opt for the one really compelling piece of content. People will remember your strong views told in words and graphics (translated into multiple languages) more than your relentless pursuit of content spam that says nothing. Here’s what I’ve learned about content as well.
- Measure. I’m a firm believer that if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. But measurement is not easy and needs to evolve. If you’re relying on clickthroughs and “Likes” and retweets you are only scratching the surface of what you need to look for from social. I prefer to look at the big picture of social and how we are attracting people to our content over the long term, but also I want to have varying social metrics for each initiative. As campaigns vary in goals and objectives so should your metrics.
- Be patient. Building awareness among all of your stakeholders takes time. Unlike many of the leading B2C brands that can leverage social among millions of consumers quickly, we need to build awareness by integrating our programs, focusing on really good content, taking calculated risks with what we say and having a long-view approach. I may have the luxury of being able to look at how we have evolved over several years, but even then we continue to try new platforms — like Pinterest and Slideshare — and we understand that we will learn from these activities over time.
- It’s not a silver bullet. Using social media is still very exciting and comes with many rewards, but it should never be separate from your brand or stand alone as a way to communicate with stakeholders. The very essence of your brand and what you are trying to convey should come through in executive speeches, new releases, your website and social media combined. However, due to the very sharing aspect of social it can be tempting to be different. Don’t do it.
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