Sidestepping Social Media Landmines
Social media marketing is the love child of all things marketing. In a PR crisis? Need to boost sales? Wanna engage customers? Go social.
And why shouldn’t social media be the marketing superhero? After all, everyone’s on it, plus it’s accessed by beloved smartphones all day, every day and–it’s FREE. Need a company twitter profile for each of your business units? How about a Facebook group and page? YouTube channel? Why, you can run your own mini media company for the grand total of… zip, zilch, nada.
But who is gonna manage all this? Your strapped marketing team? I know–interns. After all, they grew up on Facebook. Except, what if our intern says the wrong thing? I mean even Kenneth Cole put his foot in his mouth… albeit with very snazzy kicks. (Read the breakdown of Kenneth Cole’s social media blunder it in AdAge’s Committing a Social Media Sin.) Kenneth is not alone. Facebook has a saga of social media fiascos related to privacy. (Read about Facebook’s run-ins with privacy and social outcry in the Chicago Tribune.) These are big companies with big budgets. How are interns just getting to know us, the work force, and our audience, going to succeed?
Ahhh… The Precious that is social media isn’t looking so precious or so free. It looks a little hairy and scary. But you’ve already stepped in it so you can’t back out now, right?
Retracing your social media steps
Actually, you can (and should) back step your social media marketing if you don’t know your social media purpose or have the resources to commit. What good is having a Facebook page if it takes you a month to respond to your followers? You may decide you don’t need to abandon your social media marketing all together–you just need to to prioritize and cut bait on mediums that aren’t working.
How to decide? Ask your audience. The professionalism of LinkedIn more their speed or the playfulness of Facebook? Are they down with the snappiness of Twitter or the show me of YouTube? You should also ask what medium works best for the resources you have and the goals you want to accomplish. Not sure? Poll them. (Right now, Facebook is the clear social media winner but who knows what the under dogs have planned.)
Now about stretching those resources. This may seem like a given but you need to be explicit about not only what you expect of your social media team but of everyone in your organization (especially people publicly linked to your organization). That means social media guidelines and training. While using profanity on organizational social media sites is an assumed faux pas–making crude sexual jokes or profile updates like “long life the NRA” may seem acceptable on personal social media profiles. Enforcing social media violations when you haven’t set the rules is like accusing someone of cheating before you agreed to go steady. And after it’s happened, the cat’s out of the… interwebs. (Want more help on creating social media policies, read our Social Media Rules or Training Wheels post.)
So you’ve got guidelines and you’ve trained your staff on what not to do but how do you pick (or adjust) your social media team? Assuming that you don’t have the budget for full-time community managers–you may have to pull in staffers from engineering, customer service or marketing. The best community managers are people who freely share wisdom and are focused on exceptional customer experiences. Think brand evangelists. These peeps need more than just the guidelines–they need to know which beats or mediums they’re supposed to cover, the frequency of posts and how much time they should devote to their community. You may consider divvying up social platforms to your team or assigning them days of the week. You can experiment with what works best.
Helping your social team curate content and meaningful dialogue
- Share reporting based on historic social hits and bombs such as the posts that garnered the most comments, online sales or traffic to your website.
- Walk your team through appropriate ways to handle a social media diss. (Need help? Read our Surviving the Digital Thumbs Down post.)
- Arm them with an editorial calendar that includes marketing promotions, contests, events and content such as your blog or vlog schedule.
- Give them a dry run where they send sample posts to you for feedback so they get the hang of what you’re expecting and the benefit of feedback.
- Get your social team together regularly to swap knowledge and recognize individual and collective wins.
Tools to help with social media workflow and monitoring
It seems there’s a new social CRM tool out daily. They promise to deliver everything from follower insights to dazzling charts and workflow tools for enhanced customer service. And the price range can go from $0 to $1k a month. So how do you decide which one is right for you? First, make a list of your needs and nice-to-haves so you don’t choose a CRM with all the bells and whistles that lacks your basic necessities.
A social CRM should at least have:
- A url shortener for publishing
- A mobile platform for updates when you’re on the go
- Reporting so you can determine which posts and themes are working (bonus points if you can customize and export the reports)
- Multiple social mediums like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress integrated
- Keyword monitoring
- Shared accounts so multiple team members can collaborate
- Options for pre-scheduling updates
There’s no magic bullet for avoiding social media landmines. But you can set a clear purpose with objectives, give your social media team the resources and training they need, and make sure your social media strategy is integrated with your overall marketing strategy.
I’d love to hear how you navigated a social media landmine or implemented systems to better serve your social media community so please throw your comments right here.