5 steps to define your social media strategy
BP America, elected among the worst US companies in 2011, counts more than half a million of “fans” on Facebook and approximately 40’000 “followers” on Twitter. While it is probably one of the most hated firms in the world and while its products are so essential that they almost don’t require any investment in advertising, BP America succeeds in arousing the interest of an entire community. SMEs of the world, be warned: Wherever you are located, whatever the size of your company, the products you’re selling and their price, there is no reason for you to think that social media can’t make a contribution to your business! News and marketing gurus follow the trend and a myriad of questionings and tips around the topic of SMEs relation to social media strategy can be found on the web. In this context, TheRightSocialMedia.com decided to bring some clarifications, or to make its contribution by giving advices that should help SMEs in their difficult taming of the social web.
1 – Hold the ground! (and actually, gain it!)
Settle for a minimum: A username matching you’re company’s name, your logo, two sentences describing your business activity, an updated contact information. The first fundamental objective is not to be present, but to protect your business.
“An empty profile is always better than a malicious one.”
Monitoring the reputation of your company is a must. You’re never sheltered from a third party registering your username instead of you. No matter the reason, it is always extremely difficult to recover a username. What would that be if your company would be affiliated to malicious and uncalled-for content? What if one of your competitors would have at its disposal your Twitter account? Maybe you see no interest in a presence on these social media but don’t lose sight that some of your potential customers may think differently.
2 – Set up objectives: What value can you expect from social media?
It could be increasing your sales or improving performance. At an intermediary level, it could also be to raise awareness about your company and your products. In a community-oriented perspective, it could be to improve your services quality thanks to the comments generated by your users, to motivate your employees by offering them a community around which they can federate or to discover new trade partners. Options are huge, but do never loose sight that you always need to target profitability. As a consequence, don’t be afraid to set objectives, even when they are arbitrary quantified.
3 – Assess your resources
Establishing and maintaining a presence online is very time-consuming and the investment will thus be substantial. What are your available resources? Do you have a qualified employee to undertake daily activities? Are you comfortable enough with new technologies? Is it possible to recruit a community manager or an intern? Determine the terms of your investment in time and money. Social networking type and frequency will mainly depends on the balance of your objectives and resources. If it appears that a considerable gap between those appears, make sure to proceed to the necessary adjustments to reach a realistic balance.
Well, so far, you can notice that this process is very similar to any strategic planning commonly applied in business. As any strategy, its difficulty lies in the ability to optimize investment: “How to generate optimal value-added with limited resources?”
4 – Build a common information basis
Develop an adapted common base of information for all your networks’ profiles with more or less details depending on the platform. There is no need to publish tons of content if you’re not clearly identified and if your services or products are not acutely determined. Present your company, your strengths and your star-products. The objective of your future publications is to capture the attention of visitors on this information base and towards a purchasing process. Having your own website will help you guiding users towards “your” ground. In case you do not have a website, make sure that visitors understand very clearly how to proceed to the purchasing step from your profiles (contact information, retailer or distributor contact).
5 – Regulate your communication frequency
Unless you’re a big press organism or a political figure, publishing a new tweet every 10 minutes or 14 blog’s article a day is useless. The cornerstone of your communication frequency is not the quantity but the regularity. Developing an online presence is a tough task… you’d better not get out of breath after two weeks! Communicate a little, but communicate well. A few posts of Facebook and tweets by week will do it. If your strategy bears fruit, you may progressively increase your publication frequency. Of course, you may also break through this regularity in some specific context. Let’s assume that you’re about to release a new product or that you’re setting up an event. In this case, do not hesitate to increase your communication frequency for a moment in order to arouse excitement and come back to your usual frequency after this special day. Now, keep this in mind: If you wish to diversify your publications and to reinforce your online presence while minimizing the effort, share your access with reliable colleagues that are comfortable with social platforms and that are aware of your corporate image! With this, you’ll be able to gain ground in this “untamable” social media environment!
Implementing your strategy! Stay tuned… small tips to be continued!