I love this article from last summer about the 52 questions to ask when hiring a social media company. This article is spot on if you are serious about Social Media. It goes way in depth in some cases, especially for Small-to-Medium enterprises, but it does a good job in helping you determine what you should be asking a potential partner.
After talking to, working with and pitching dozens of companies and organizations on the principles of social media and why it works for more than just Business-to-Consumer Brands, I have realized that it is a much bigger commitment than just “another marketing or advertising campaign” of sorts.
Here is what you need to do to make sure your social media efforts get the Return-On-Investment (ROI) they could and also why playing around doesn’t really drive effective social media. All of these things really depend on who has what responsibilities within your organization and how it is structured but most are applicable in the larger, national and even global size companies. Even smaller organizations can take away some value as well.
First - Your various business units or divisions and partners should be all be looped in and asked if they participate in social media and how. They should all be informed somehow of what you are doing and why even potentially consulted on how they could improve their social media initiatives so you can have some Brand continuity across all of your channels.
Second - You need to look at your audience structure. Don’t be thinking that a “catch all” corporate Facebook page or blog is enough. People are smarter than that. Speak specifically to them, with content that is what they want – be specific in touching all your audience with content and experiences they can relate to. Don’t make it a “news” page. If you are updating them with content they don’t care about half of the time, they will start to ignore it ALL of the time and that is bad. If you have the resources and a large enough market share, you could consider “several” Blogs(or add filters when they follow so they can select what information they want) and multiple Facebook pages for segments that are big enough to warrant them and truly create a dialog/interaction with a specific customer base.
Third - You have to have some buy-in at the C-level. They should be involved in whats going on and even use them to help aggregate industry news, company news, white papers, blog postings, etc. It is important to help them buy into goals that established and measurement of success – in effect the ROI you want. This might also help you navigate any potential objections from “legal”. Speaking of legal, if you do use a third party source, make sure they can work with someone like Bevelwise to ensure no proverbial “lines” get crossed and they feel like you could get into any “trouble” resulting in ligitgation.
Fourth - offer out incentives of some sort to employees to touch customers (sales, customer service, customer care/support, etc) to help feed you good stories, testimonials, content, and things that make good social media posts. Anyone who touches a client could help generate content and drive the initiatives further – A customer service person that asks “are you following us on Facebook yet – we have specials we run for those fans on occasion” can go a long way to helping build your presence. These people can also get you content for posting MUCH faster and more often than most.
Fifth - all of your web resources, teams, should know what is going on and why. They don’t have to “agree” with it always, but aligning what is happening with the website (SEO/Content) resources, all of your marketing/advertising campaigns (email, online, offline, direct mail, etc) and initiatives and your PR team will help feed you more content and help the “big picture” work together. After all, if you are putting effort in, you want to maximize each effort.
Sixth - If you are big enough, try to find a champion from each internal department, especially those that touch customers, so they can farm for content, feedback and other things you can share through your social media channels. They can work with your social media agency or potentially be trained on making posts – You want to make sure you are feeding the content to touch all of your vertical markets, products, services, audiences etc-especially if you have the resources or need for content specific social media. Internal folks live and breathe your strategy 24/7 – they can be VERY beneficial to an outside resource because of that.
Finally - if you are choosing a partner to help, choose a partner that has understanding across all marketing mediums, but with a specialty in the online channels like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), website usability, online marketing – (banners/PPC, e-mail marketing, and especially analytics. That should mean they know how to set up goals and measure results across the many different channels and mediums that are being used for your overall advertising strategy.
We welcome your social media strategy questions.