There are too many stories of brands having tried and failed to use social media effectively. It may have been a disaster or, more usually, just not have had the impact and return on investment for the brand as it might have had. The most effective way to avoid this is to make sure that when you are getting started in social media you have done some effective planning first.
Listen to what people are saying about your brand in social media so that you know what people are saying about you and where they are saying it. Then think about what you want to achieve with your social media strategy. Only by doing this will you be able to develop a clear and focused plan and, perhaps most importantly, measure the benefit your social media efforts are having.
Once you’ve got a clear plan it’s time to start thinking about technology and tools that you can use, and most importantly to start experimenting. This is where it gets fun.
When you are working out how to use social media tools, which to experiment with and how there are four main things to think about to help you get going:
- Use your buzz tracking to understand where people are talking about you. Compare this with the people you want to engage in social media, those who will help you meet your aims. This will give you an understanding of where the people you want to engage and the conversations you want to join are. This obviously only gives you half the story as you may also want to engage people in a new place or in your own space online.
- Decide which of these tools will help you to meet the aims you have set out. If you want to capture potential new customers, for example, using Twitter or Facebook may not be the most useful tool as these will not give you the contact details you probably want. If you want ideas into your business, there may be better ways of doing it than a forum or blog. Think carefully about what you want to achieve and the full range of tools available to you.
- Get cracking. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking and planning so far. Now it’s time to just try some things out. One of the benefits of social media is that it can be relatively low cost to experiment. Start small and try a few tools. If you need blog then put one up quickly and invest time in getting it creating content and encouraging and growing engagement. Experiment with a small number of tools and evaluate how effective these are being, switching on more tools over time.
- Work hard to get the engagement. Getting the tools up and running are really just the first step. The tough work starts when you start to engage people in social media, whether that’s in Facebook, on Twitter, in blogs, forums and other sites or indeed on your own online community. Engagement is hard and it needs a clear plan and dedication to make it work. The benefit of experimenting and having a go with different tools, and growing your use of social media in a controlled way is that you can see what is working, amend your techniques and try new things. If you have the right measurements in place you will know if you’re reaching your targets and if not you need to evaluate if you are using the right tools and if you are engaging people in the right way.
Once you have tools up and running the final stage for any brand getting started in social media is to make sure you are tracking and measuring your success. That’s what we will look at in the final post in this series.
You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media
Image by basheertome via Flickr