Social media is a hot topic these days. Most companies plan to increase their resources investment in social media over the next five years, and several recent IBM surveys, including The State of Marketing 2012
and The 2012 IBM Global CEO Study
, indicate that keeping pace with social media proliferation is one of the biggest marketing challenges right now.
As you grow your social media programs, remember that social media is not an exact science -- there is no one right way to approach it. However, I do think that there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of success. Based on my own personal experiences, here are some tips on how to build and execute an effective social media program:
1 - Listen to the Market
Establishing a social media strategy (or any strategy, for that matter) starts with market research. Before you dive in head first, take some time to:
- Understand what the marketplace is saying about your company
- Evaluate the competitive landscape
- Identify your target audience, including key influencers, and which communities are relevant
2 - Identify your Business Goals
Before you move forward, think carefully about what goals you are trying to achieve with your social media presence. Possible goals may include:
- Improving awareness of your company or products
- Generating leads
- Increasing web traffic
- Promoting events or digital assets
- Establishing reputation
- Increasing customer satisfaction
Tie your goals back to your overall marketing strategy and integrate your social efforts with other aspects of your digital presence.
3 - Choose your Social Networks Thoughtfully
Each platform has its own unique features, user habits and demographics, so pick the platform(s) that make sense based on your goals. Consider the target audience, required time commitment and budget when making a decision, because some social network lend themselves more towards some business goals than others. If you're having trouble making a decision, this matrix offers some solid advice on how to choose the right social media platform
4 - Set Your Profile Up for Success
Your profile plays a key role in enticing people to connect with you in the digital space, in the same way that how you present yourself does when you are networking in person. Don't discount things like branding and graphics, cross-linkages to your website and other social accounts, and a well-written profile description as important aspects of attracting followers.
5 - Develop Social Media Content & Engage Your Audience
Companies that are successful with social media usually do two things well: they enable a candid dialogue with their stakeholders and offer them meaningful, value-add content. Here are some tips on how to do both:
- Identify hot topics and pain points, then initiate and participate in conversations around those topics
- Create a forward-looking content calendar to ensure a steady stream of new content
- Avoid the temptation to use social media like traditional advertising. Speak informally, ask questions and share your opinions
6 - Empower Your Advocates
Enable your supporters to like and share your content, and encourage them to do so. Third party supporters act as a reference for your company and can provide strong social proof for new audiences. The IBM Champions program is a great example of this because it recognizes highly regarded experts in the IT community and rewards them by helping them increase their spheres of influence.
7 - Understand the Impact: Quantify Your Successes
Develop metrics to identify successes/failures and continually reassess your performance. Benchmark your achievements against competitors and industry trends. Many social networks, like YouTube and Facebook, now offer free metrics that can help you do this. You can also leverage no-cost third party tools, such as Feedburner (blog metrics), to aid in this effort.
Looking for more information on building and executing an effective social media program? Visit the Getting Started with Social Media
portal on PartnerWorld for self-study resources and the latest Social Media Bootcamps for Business Partners.