By Jim Baumer
Whether marketing your services, products, or just making sure your message remains relevant in the 21st century, it's essential that you establish an online beachhead in today's marketplace. If you don't, consider yourself left behind.
So how do you plan and do social media well? Think three words: commit, update and maintain.
I've been blogging for 10 years. That landscape is strewn with good intentions and dormant blogs. The dormant bloggers made a commitment. Then, they grew tired of coming up with new content and stopped updating their blogs. Don't let that happen with social media. When you commit, make sure you update your various platforms.
How Often Is Enough?
For Facebook, you should be updating regularly. Announce an upcoming event. Broadcast a new product, a special deal, or link to news stories akin to your industry. Just one caveat; engaging updates are more than merely posting links.
- Find your Facebook "voice"
- Figure out what kind of content gets liked and give your fans what they want (your comments and likes will provide the feedback necessary to guide you)
If your company is small, one comment and three likes for your updates is a reasonable goal. Bigger companies with lots of web traffic should generate more feedback. You'll figure it out by experimenting. This is scary for business types that need everything figured out before they'll commit. Sorry, but social media doesn't work that way.
Twitter baffles many. It's probably the most misunderstood (but potentially rewarding) of the social media platforms. Every business should have a Twitter account but remember, not everyone is a natural-born tweeter. Like Facebook, Twitter has some best practices:
- Have a personality and build your community
- Share opinions
- Use a link-shortener like Bit.ly, Ow.ly, or Google and track them
- Learn how to retweet and do it often
- Use hash tags (#) strategically
- Tweet daily
Social Media Management
Who is the best person to manage your social media accounts?
Find the staffing capacity and assign a person with social media savvy and skills to "own" your social media brand. Assign a senior staff person to monitor your company's social media activity making sure it conforms to your company's social media and digital use policies. This isn't to censor, but to ensure your message and online brand aligns with your overall brand and marketing. Here are some skills and qualities to look for:
- Passion for your business and its mission
- Passion for social media of all types
- Creative and attentive to detail
- Experience online
- A commitment to staying current with social media
- Is an early adopter of new technologies
- Has a writing background and can tell your bigger story
Give that person time to carry out their social media responsibilities during their work day. That doesn't mean fitting it in around all of their other duties, either. What it means is allocating a period of time each day and during the week to carry out social media in a personal, but professional way.
A large company should consider adding a social media manager to their marketing department. Smaller firms should budget 15 to 25 hours in your designated staff person's week for handling social media responsibilities such as these:
- Updating Facebook and Twitter
- Maintaining a company blog (you should have one)
- Setting up a YouTube channel
- Developing a digital version of your company newsletter and sending it out via email marketing programs
Now that I've walked you through the steps of getting social, jumping in, and finalizing your plan, it's time for you to commit, update, maintain and develop a vibrant social media brand.