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Planning Your Company's Social Media Program

Never Too Late: Planning Your Company's Social Media Program

You’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. But your company’s on a four-color, eight-page brochure that hasn’t changed in five years.

Facebook just bought social media site WhatsApp for $19 billion. With that kind of valuation, the five-year old social media site is worth more than mega-agribusiness ConAgra.

Still, your CEO, Dr. Flintstone, doesn’t think this social media thing will catch on, and won’t OK a social media program for the company.

If that’s you, here are some tips to convince him that it’s worth meeting a billion potential customers in the market where they hang out these days—the social market.

Dr. Flintstone, I presume?

The first step in de-Flintstoning your company is understanding that you’re not alone.  Nearly three-quarters of senior-level executives are worried about the risks that come with social media.

And the two things they fear most are negative comments and leaking proprietary information.

So here’s what you tell the good Doctor: First, someone will always have something negative to say about your company or its products—whether you’re on social media or not.

If people are going to bad mouth you they don’t need Twitter to do it. What social media lets you do is monitor that dialogue to a great extent. Knowing what people are saying about you makes it easier to react than having them talk behind your back.

Similarly, loose lips have been sinking ships forever. With social media if an employee lets the date of a new product launch slip, you at least have an audit trail to follow.

Have a Plan 

C-level executives are all about planning and execution. So the first rule of social media is to develop a formal social media plan. Be prepared to defend it. Make sure you set quantifiable goals, know how you’re going to develop and deliver content, and propose a frequency of messaging.

One of the biggest challenges we have helping clients develop a social media or marketing plan is fulfillment. We’ll lay out a plan for generating content and set a schedule. But clients don’t often follow it.

To be effective you have to deliver frequent content. So set that schedule and live by it.

Sharing is Caring

Developing quality content will be your main challenge. As a broadcaster the first lesson I learned was to always make your copy interesting and informative. So the next rule is to blog, tweet or post about things you have experience in. And do it in an interesting way. See our January 28 post on actionable writing.

Also, remember, it’s not about you. It’s about your followers. So here’s the next rule: Develop content that your followers want, not what you want to give them. 

Pretend it’s a covered-dish dinner. Always bring something that people will find interesting and they’ll want the recipe.

What Channels Do I Use?

The social channels you use will depend on your overall plan objectives. For example, Facebook has about a half-billion users. But it’s generally more appropriate for consumer products.

Facebook allows consumers to express their brand loyalty in words and images. So it may not be the right channel for your company’s business-to-government sales channel.

Blogs like The Lobster Shift are great because of the flexibility bloggers enjoy. But the average blog attracts about 15 avid readers. Fortunately, The Lobster reaches considerably more readers than that.

Be sure you cross-promote your messages across multiple channels using links. There are good tools like Tweetdeck for managing the multiple channels. 

Managing Content

When it comes to social, content is king. Your plan needs to address a number of content-related issues. For example:

·      Who should control the content?
·      How will you develop content?
·      Will employees be allowed/required to develop content?
·      Who will be responsible for monitoring content?

If you are a small company social media has a big advantage: It helps level the playing field between you and your larger competitors.  In social media all tweets, posts or blogs depend on the content, rather than the size of the company. To develop good content you need to first address the issues of control, development and monitoring.

How’d I Do, Boss?

But Dr. Flintstone still thinks social media is a soft, ooey-gooey waste of time. He’s big on objective, quantifiable data to see whether you’ve met your plan. So here’s the last rule: Give it to him.

Most social channels allow you to generate a raft of data that can help you evaluate how your social media campaign is going. Most platforms already have these tools built in.

Tools like Google Analytics and SiteMeter make the job relatively painless and fast.  We check our stats weekly for all of our platforms and those we’ve developed for clients.

Finally, while you’re checking your site traffic, also track you Search Engine Optimization results. Your goal should be to be picked up in as many searches as possible, at the same time converting these searchers into followers and ultimately customers as your relationship builds.

Remember, the key to a good social program is planning. Plan well, monitor and evaluate, and you may even see @DrYabbadabbado among the 200 million tweeters on the planet.

Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…