Every marketer today knows social media is a critical channel in his or her marketing mix. Despite arguments over the direct ROI associated with social media, it’s simply something that can't be ignored for brands in today's media landscape.
Whether used as a promotional tool, a customer service collective or a place to house your tribes and zealots, it is a critical piece to unlocking the social code and reaching your brand’s true potential.
Determine Your Plan of Attack
Before going into any battle, you need a strategy. Battles can't be fought without great soldiers armed with the right tools, intel and ammunition to win the war.
Look at your internal team and identify who on your team is going to help tackle your social media. It's not a part-time job or a problem solved with unpaid interns and a fresh-out-of-college hire who shows up to work with your logo on their lunch boxes.
Doing social right takes a team and often a mix of internal and external partners to get the job done. The question of whether to keep social in-house or hire an agency is a tough one with no tried-and-true answer. But, there are some circumstances that should influence your decision.
What type of content are you going to create? Who are you targeting? What is your editorial governance and internal legal and creative constraints? These questions and others will need to be answered to formulate a winning content strategy. We typically recommend working with your resident social media expert in concert with a savvy social media agency to help establish your social playbook. This is a critical artifact to all involved in the battle.
Recruit Your Team
Community managers are generally a blend of internal customer support teams and passionate brand lovers (employees, endorsers and agencies) who are aligned to your brand belief systems. These managers will help drive loyalty and engagement and defend you at times of crisis. They will be the foot soldiers responsible for turning panic and anger into moments of surprise and delight.
Content creators are essential to any social media team. Gone are the days where a great writer could convert ad copy into social blurbs with stock imagery. Social needs unique, organic content that is relevant and interesting. Putting print ads or repurposing your eCommerce images isn't going to kindle your social fire, and in some cases, can do more harm than good.
Choose Your Weapon
Simply using the Facebook or Twitter website interface is going to leave you woefully underprepared. You need to bring in some bigger guns. What is a war without weapons?
While many tools do a combination of tasks, I'll aim to save you hours of time reading decks, dealing with hungry sales people and watching long demos.
There is no silver bullet.
Depending on your goals, needs and channels, different tools complement and supplement one another.
Tools can be broken down into the following categories:
See the who, what, when, where and how of what is happening on the Web and inside of your social channels. Analytic data is nothing without strategy. You should define key performance indicators in the beginning and then begin measuring them. As with every metric, looking to your strategy and key performance indicators are going to give you the things you need to measure your paid, earned and owned media. Apply key segmentations on this data for proper attribution and insights.
Publishing and Engagement
Pushing out posts, pins, tweets and replying to the community is what these tools will enable you to do. Don’t spend valuable time publishing posts daily; most tools allow you to schedule weeks and even months in advance. It’s up to you to manage the content from there to make sure your posts are still appropriate and timely.
Monitoring tools help you listen for trigger words (yours or competitors), brand discourse and capture data to compare and contrast findings with your brand and research data. These tools help augment and reach your goals.
Rather than viewing social tools with a “kid-in-a-candy-shop” mentality (trying everything and seeing what you like), it’s much better to begin executing your strategy and figuring out where your pain points are. It’s a lot easier to select a tool based on solving an issue.
Some good starting places include:
These sites offer listening, publishing and engagement tools, as well as additional layers of analytics. But without the right drivers, tools are just that: tools.
The list goes on and on, and it’s going to cost you at least a tweet @petesena to get me to spill which of these (if any) are my favorites. Seriously though, I couldn't possibly list them all in this article (length).
Social isn't a fad, and the longer you wait the harder it is to play.