10 Best Practices for a Successful Social Media Strategy - Part II
Just before the holidays we published the first part of our series on how to launch a successful social media strategy. I hope your 2013 is off to a great start and I am delighted to bring you Part II of this conversation. Let’s pick up where we left off last time.
6) Be Human
People love brands, but they want to communicate and connect with people. Even when communicating on behalf of the brand, it’s good to let your social audience know who is behind the logo-- especially when it comes to service issues. For example, some companies have tweets signed off with a name or set of initials, especially if a group of people from the brand are participating in the engagement process. This helps customers feel like they are truly connecting with an actual human being and feel more engaged with brand representatives. This is especially important if your social accounts are helping field customer service inquiries. In this screenshot below, the tweet has been marked with the initials MM so that the customer and the Citi team all knew who was helping this customer.
7) Don't Ignore Social in a Crisis
Things happen. None of us like it, and we all do our best to avoid it, but sometimes things go wrong outside of our control. If you have active social channels, it’s important to have a plan in place as to how social communications will be managed in a crisis situation-- before the crisis actually happens. You can’t leave it to chance, it may only make a bad situation a lot worse. A very recent example can be found in Con Edison’s Manager of Public Affairs, Kate Frasca’s handling of ConEd’s twitter account during Superstorm Sandy. Their crisis plan won them a lot of points with their social audience, which grew from 800 to 22,300 twitter followers in the span of a week. Of course Ms. Frasca and her team couldn't directly resolve the problems ConEd's customers were facing in the wake of the storm, but at the least customers knew they were being heard. Not to mention, ConEd should have been able to benefit from real-time alerts from locals on the streets via social media mentions-- enabling them to get a handle on emergency situations faster in the areas of impact. Again, having a social media monitoring tool in play is a big part of managing a crisis successfully.
8) Protect The Brand
It is all too easy to accidently tweet something from the corporate account thinking that it’s your own personal account. Whoops! This can lead to disastrous consequences for the brand. It seems like every week the media is highlighting some awesome/awful social media blunder; check out The 20 Biggest Brand Disasters to see how things can really go wrong when social accounts are improperly handled. These kinds of disasters frequently go viral, making a bad situation even worse for the brand. Some companies, like this Red Cross 'rogue tweet' blunder, are savvy enough to turn these kinds mistakes into PR wins, but that’s rarely the case and best to be avoided. To avoid these kinds of scenarios, hire seasoned social media professionals to handle your communications, and for more junior staff, put tools in place that require tweets and other posts to be approved before going live.
9) The Mobile-Social Revolution is Upon Us
If you don’t have a mobile-optimized website or app, having a strong presence on social channels is even more important for your business. According to Nielsen’s State of the Media: Social Media Report 2012, time spent on mobile social apps is up 76% in 2012 from 2011 and 30% of the total time spent on a mobile device is consumed by surfing social networks. As a result, make sure your social presence addresses the needs of mobile customers. Include maps, directions, phone numbers and other geo-location services on your social sites. Also, since 73% of consumers say they have used their mobile phone in a store for things like product information and assistance with buying decisions, you should offer content through your social sites that cater to in-store consumers.
10) Stay Current
One of the things I love about social media is how quickly it’s changing. Sites gain and lose popularity very quickly, new features are popping up all the time-- which is both exciting but also a little unnerving. Take a look at Pinterest. A year ago very few of us had heard of it, and now it’s the fastest growing social media site in history, and enjoying up to a 400% month-over-month growth. Before setting up a branded page on any social site, first try it out as a consumer/user to get the hang of it. Then take time to identify business reasons for setting up a branded page and ensure you have the resources to maintain the new account once you get it started. Also, existing social channels are constantly evolving and adding new features for brands-- if social channels don’t evolve they will be left stagnating in the dust. Check often to see what new innovations, features or plugins might be available to you on channels you’re already using. For examples, consider how Citi has brought live chat to Twitter to outstanding results. Take a stroll around other brand pages every once in a while to get inspired by the possibilities. It’s fun to learn from others to see how cool features are being implemented.
Social media is undoubtedly still in it’s early stages and continues to rapidly evolve. What the social landscape will look like in one year, 5 years and 10 years from now will be very different than what we see today. Will Facebook and Twitter still be the reigning social king and queen? Perhaps not. Understanding this means that all social media professionals have to keep one eye on the present, one eye on the horizon and have a commitment to always be learning. In that vein, I encourage you to visit LivePerson’s social pages: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Google+ and yes, even Pinterest, and please share your feedback with me. What do you think we are doing well and where do you think we can improve our social presence? We’d love to hear your thoughts! You can comment below or reach out to me directly on Twitter.