Jokes: This is a tricky one, and it’s more of a branding question than anything else. First of all, know what your brand is and what kind of personality it embodies. If humor is not a part of that, you might avoid this type of post. It can backfire and be incredibly awkward. If you are going to try humor, safety first! Ensure you’re not unintentionally sharing something that could be offensive by testing it amongst your colleagues, friends, or even family. Always err on the side of caution with sensitive topics; a disaster can be really painful. Once you’ve made sure the humor is acceptable, make sure it’s actually funny, because a bad joke is just embarrassing.
How to share and publish your content
Frequency of updates
“How often do I need to update my account?” is a common question, and there is no right or wrong answer here—no best practice set in stone. It simply depends on your audience, their appetite, and what you have to say. There has been some research on this topic that can act as a general guideline in your efforts; but as with most things, it’s best to test and see what works best for you and your audience on each platform.
One universal fact is that social media status updates don’t last long. The half-life of a tweet, for example, is around 18 minutes for most users. This number isn’t meant to suggest you should post that often, but rather understand that sending an update out doesn’t mean it will remain visible for an appreciable amount of time. Users move on to more recent items in their newsfeeds quite quickly. The takeaway here is to keep an eye on how long your users are engaging and sharing something. More than anything, this is indicative of the quality of your content.
Again, though, it all depends on what is appropriate for your organization. For example, news organizations or media publications could easily be expected to update multiple-to-many times per day, whereas a clothing retailer would be exhausted by this rhythm and consequently turn off users. You definitely don’t want to talk just for the sake of talking; if you don’t have anything of value to add, don’t post updates just to meet a quota. That said, you will need to make sure your account updates regularly enough to entice users to follow along. You want them to know they could be missing out on some good stuff if they don’t.
Ask for help: Want your community to help or participate in a particular way? Sometimes it’s as simple as asking. If you’ve earned their allegiance by building value and investment into the relationship, you can ask for survey participation, product feedback, or whatever else you need. Maybe you need help supporting or sharing a new program or piece of content. You’ve made the relationship investment; they will often gladly reciprocate.
Keep it simple: Too many options may as well be no options. If your audience isn’t on a certain network, why would you promote that sharing option on your content? Conversely, if your main focus is B2B, you may (for example) not need to include Pinterest as a sharing option. Look at your social audience and match up your offerings with their behaviors.
Cross-promote for discoverability: There’s nothing worse for a user than not being able to find your content, and cross-promotion is an easy way to help keep that from happening. Ensure your blog is linked to from your social properties. Keep all of your profile names the same across all social channels (utilize a service like KnowEm to be proactive on this one), and cross-promote your accounts. And (this is super-important): Develop and sell a unique value proposition for each account. Think about it—why would a customer need to or want to follow you on Twitter, if they already follow you on Facebook? Make sure you give them a reason.
Monitor and listen: Monitor social channels as frequently as you can. Utilize services that will help push notifications to you so you can ensure you’re not missing meaningful conversations across the web. There are countless apps for Twitter and Facebook (SocialEngage, HootSuite, TweetDeck, etc.) available, and you can set up alerts, as well (Fresh Web Explorer, IFTTT). Often the admin tools of various platforms will have this functionality built in. As you monitor, genuinely listen to what your customers tell you. Social listening data provides endless insights for brands and companies willing to listen. This can be your product feedback channel, your user experience consultation, and even your early warning system for when things gone awry.
Gamify: People enjoy competition and like being rewarded for achievements, and adding game-like elements into your marketing mix can help you motivate a community. Foursquare is one effective example of this, moving its users through mayorships and badges. You can identify ways to incent your own community in ways that align with your business goals, making engaging with your brand fun. This can be a great way to increase the number of answers your community is providing in a help forum—add levels and achievements for answering questions, for high-quality answers, or for sharing out unanswered questions. Match up behavior and goals with reward systems. Companies like Badgeville and BigDoor have products that can help you use virtual rewards. These efforts can build on your existing social marketing, increasing sentiment, retention, and loyalty, all while decreasing churn, acquisition expense, and customer service costs.
Consistent branding and voice
There are many elements that go into a brand—both visual and otherwise—but ultimately what it becomes is your promise to your customers. You define their experience of what your product offering tries to fulfill. A “brand” can feel like a very amorphous concept; but consider the fact that your company’s brand helps add tangible value to the organization, and when managed appropriately, it can help to protect the investments made to the business over time. How one actually determines the value of a brand is a fairly complicated endeavor.
Most of us aren’t trying to compete with the most valuable global brands. That being said, there sure is a lot you can learn from them:
If you don’t answer these questions first, your social presence can veer toward one of two extremes: Either your communication will come across as stiff and corporate, and the people you’re engaging will feel like they’re dealing with a robot, or your community manager will use his or her own voice in your communications, leading to an inconsistent or even inauthentic experience.
Providing a cohesive, branded customer experience that is completely agnostic of site, network, or location will serve to galvanize your community’s comprehension of, memory of, and hopefully preference for your brand.
How to earn familiarity, trust, and likeability in your community
Building a reputation around these three qualities is part of what goes into building relationships. We’re all in this social media puddle trying to accomplish big things for our businesses, but step back for a minute—let’s think about this in a different way. How do you build relationships offline or in person? Building them online for your brand is not all that different.
None of this will happen for you overnight. An investment in these relationships is ultimately a long-term investment in your community and brand. Keep it up, and be patient—the more you invest, the more you’ll get back.
We hope that we’re never faced with a crisis as a business, and social media can add an extra layer of complication to such a situation. A real-world incident can be amplified by social networks, casting a shadow over everything you say, and customer service issues can smolder and quickly spread through social platforms. At the same time, though, social networks can be a wonderful way to practice transparency, as the best way to fight chaos is with clarity. Buffer, a social sharing app, exemplified this type of response when it was hacked in late 2013. Their blog, and the comments below it, are a testament to the benefits of open communication through social channels.
Preparation: Understanding risks, building out escalation processes, draft responses, roles and responsibilities, training, etc.
Response and measurement: Responding if necessary, following up, measuring and monitoring reach, volume, etc.
Recovery: Typically consists of more measurement, follow up, case-studies, and knowledge sharing throughout the organization.
Prevention: Analysis of crisis and existing procedures, identification of opportunities for improvement, and acknowledgement of what worked well.
When in crisis mode work to first understand the level of severity, identify potential risks, and escalate accordingly. Work through the crisis by listening intently, showing empathy, transparency, and a willingness to correct whatever wrong had been done. After the fact, examining the impact and pulling insight from the situation can help the organization heal, move forward, and gain traction toward a strong preventative posture.
Measurement leads to action; it’s hard to argue with that. Conversely, what we do must be measured, or there’s no proof it worked. An analogy with a tree falling comes to mind. 🙂
There are really three big buckets for social media analysis. Some data points will cross between buckets, and others may even fall outside of these, but for most businesses these three major categories should cover your social data needs.
Account growth and competitive progress will fall into this bucket. We’re really talking about hard data points in this bucket. Growth in followers and likes, reach, and CTR are all examples of measurement data.
Social media gives us unprecedented access to conversations. Listening tools help you take the massive flow of information and distill the meaningful bits. The insights you glean will help inform you of key customer pain points, competitive opportunities, and even overall brand sentiment.
Monitoring and response: Getting a little more tactical, marketers need the ability to monitor all of those social conversations in order to take effective action. These tools typically have workflow functionality built in, so you’re empowered to not only find, but act. This is not limited to reactive posting, either. These tools will likely function as your primary content distribution tool if you’re not doing it directly from within each platform.
Some tools may serve one or more of these needs. They can vary wildly in price and functionality, so taking a critical eye to what type and form of data you will need will help ensure you pay no more than what is necessary.
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