In the first part of our guide to getting started in social media, we looked at buzz tracking. Why brands benefit from understanding who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. Once you have an understanding of what is currently being said about your brand in social media, you will be much better informed about the issues of interest to people, the opinions they have, who your influencers and advocates are and where you can start to engage with people in social media. The next step is to work out what you actually want to achieve.
For too many people, social media is seen first and foremost as a technological solution. People decide they want to ‘implement social media’ and then work out what they want to do with it. This kind of enthusiasm is great and people who want to harness and use social media for your brand should be embraced. However, for any business there is a critical question you need to answer first: “what are you trying to achieve”.
There is much talk about measurement and proving the ROI of social media. One way to ensure that you are able to show the impact that your use of social media has had is to make sure you have clear and measurable aims in the first place. Maybe you want to increase customer loyalty, reduce the cost of your current customer service channels, increase customer satisfaction, get new ideas into your business or reduce the cost of your customer insight spend. These are the kind of aims and objectives (at a very high level) that some of our current clients at FreshNetworks have. And all of them are measurable. You can show the impact you are having on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. And you can show either the revenue you are generating, or the costs your are saving, your brand.
A clear understanding of what you want to achieve should be the first step for any brand looking to get started in social media. This may be a detailed decision process or it may be simple, but no brand should try something without at least some aims. A simple three-step process for any brand is:
- Think about your current business strategy. Consider what would make the biggest difference to your business. Evaluate where you can contribute in the short-, medium- and long-terms.
- When you have thought through this you need to evaluate and refine your aims based on what is achievable using social media. Not everything is and not everything should be.
- Finally consider each of the aims and objectives you have left and how you can measure the impact you are having. Think about what you should expect from social media, what return you should see and what return you would expect for the investment you are putting into your activities.
This is a simple but effective process. The most important thing is to critically evaluate what you want to achieve as a brand and then work with people with experience of using social media to understand the full and diverse range of things you could do, tools you might use and engagement methods you might employ to contribute to these. This is often an iterative process and will help you to refine what you are looking to achieve and make sure it is realistic and achievable.
At FreshNetworks, we have worked with brands who have started working in social media. They are doing great things and it’s great to see them experimenting. But without having thought through what they are trying to achieve, why and how they will measure it their social media efforts will more likely than not fail. If you are not clear in your mind why you are doing it, you can be sure that your users will not understand what they are supposed to be doing in your social media site.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but it is a valuable and important step for any brand getting started in social media. And remember at this stage we’re still not really talking about technology. Not yet at least. That part comes next.
You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media
Image by eliotreeves via Flickr