Are you or your clients still dabbling with or are on the sidelines when it comes to social media?
In the first part of this article, I discussed the barrier reflex to social media – the things that stop many companies from fully engaging on social platforms. In this second part, I focus on the importance of building “commitment reflexes” required for successful programs.
Simply put, this means working with companies or leaders to create a shared understanding of the keys to generating a return on social investment.
When it comes to achieving social media goals, it’s essential to look both at content production and delivery. But, the real starting point should be defining purpose.
As I argued in Part 1, discussions around Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all too often framed around being on the platforms or doing more, not how they can be used to achieve each client’s specific business objectives.
To overcome the barriers to social media, it’s important to engage in ways that build reflexes that support the long-term commitment required to achieve desired outcomes.
Having a clear, well-defined framework for approaching a social media program is essential to driving social action. Here are 10 keys to success:
- Engage with purpose.
Know specifically what you or your client are seeking to achieve. A clear focus on specific business outcomes and setting reasonable timelines for these goals will ensure the most efficient approach to realizing them. Since it may be hard for many to imagine what may be possible – it’s important to show the way through examples.
- Focus on content that adds value and is platform appropriate.
This is easy to say, but often hard to do. Our normal reflex is to market and share what we want to tell others. We need to resist this urge. Through a combination of listening, experience, and data, the focus must be on providing information that meets audience needs. And, it must be platform specific.
- Use social media to amplify and complement other marketing intiatives.
You cannot send a client an email, a white paper, or brochure every day. But you can share content and engage everyday through social media. And, as you build an audience, social media can be used to amplify the reach and impact of your marketing initiatives.
- Leverage your decision makers to engage other decision makers.
The simple value-in, value-out proposition applies here. Engagement comes when interesting and smart ideas or insights are shared. That will involve senior or experienced people identifying and sharing value-added information. CEOs and other senior leaders should be active and visible on social media platforms beyond Linkedin.
- Leverage news/events in ways that work for your social media audiences.
There’s a reason why selfies, pictures, and sharing articles and content work on social media - because people like to see themselves and others. Am I advocating companies should take a selfie in a client meeting? No! But, when you are at a conference, take a picture, share highlights, and include hashtags from the event – audiences will engage. These are learned communications behaviors.
- Resist the urge to think about specific events. Instead, think about flow.
Corporate communications used to be about press releases and a controlled communications process geared around them. Social media provides the flexibility to share elements of a story over time. While this communication must be done with intent and be coordinated, think multiple messages, not “big bang”.
- Give more emphasis to quality than quantity.
Social media should not be about follower numbers or impressions (unless that’s what your business model requires), it should be about engagement with the right people. A systematic process of connecting directly with clients, prospects, influencers, and reporters should be the core of your social media focus. Engaging directly with individuals or where your audiences gather is essential.
- Be willing to pay.
It’s the business model. As much as we may not want to cough up cash, when aligned with your objectives, a small investment will go a long way.
- Play the long game.
In the real world it takes time to build relationships. Social media is no different. If you want someone to buy your product or service, don’t gate crash conversations and expecting to be welcomed. Trust is earned, especially in cyberspace.
- Have analytics at the core, but be driven by insights.
Analytics will tell you what has and has not resonated in the past, allowing you to adjust and fine-tune messages, tone, and timing. Data will also tell you that cat videos are the best way to drive traffic. Providing insights relevant to your target audiences should be your “north star”.
Getting clients to take on each of these ideas requires work. Detailed cases studies, research into a company’s business model, and discussion of the way in which social media can drive priorities, is key to moving clients off the sidelines, as well as building the commitment of resources and long-term engagement required to deliver on social media’s business promise.
A combination of purpose-driven focus and positive experience will create a virtuous cycle of investment and engagement. A Nepalese abbot of a monastery outside Kathmandu once told me that in Buddhism, “faith is based on experience.”
In this context, building the positive reflexes that drive programs will be based on experience. But, as in Buddhism, clients and companies need experts to show the way to social nirvana through example.
Read more on our Insights Blog, including: “Social Media Marketing: Building Social Media Reflexes & Overcoming Them (Part 1)”, “Thinking Outside the Box to Make Better Client Connections”, and “Slow PR: Communications Strategies for a Fast World”.
Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatchTM
Locke writes extensively on issues related to communications, PR, media and behaviors. Prior to founding CommunicationsMatch, which helps companies find agencies, consultants and freelancers that match needs, and generates new business leads for communicators, he held senior corporate communications roles at Prudential Financial, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank and founded communications consultancies. Create a consultant, freelancer profile on CommunicationsMatch or SEARCH for communications agencies and professionals. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.