We’ve done a lot of talking about what not to do, and the ways in which you shouldn’t do social media. Today, we’re going to focus on something a little more positive: how you can tell you’re doing social right.
Generally, when one looks at all the most successful endeavors, businesses, and individuals, they tend to share a few traits in common. While it’s true that none of them are exactly identical to one another, there’s a certain set of characteristics which, although they don’t necessarily guarantee success, certainly help things along considerably. The same is true of social media campaigns. There are a few specific traits that each of the most successful social campaigns share in common: ensuring they’re present in your own marketing plan is a good way to make sure things don’t go south.
1. Knowledge of Your Demographic
It’s a cardinal rule of any marketing campaign: you need to know who you’re selling to. Where social media is concerned, this rule becomes even more important. Since social networking is all about connections (more on that in a moment), it’s absolutely vital that you know who you’re trying to sell your brand to. After all, how can you connect with someone if you have no idea who they are?
Basically, you’ll want to do your homework before you start planning your campaign. Ask yourself who might be interested in your brand, then figure out which social network they’re likely to use. Market research is your friend here, but you’ll want to try to pull it off without being too intrusive in the process.
2. An Active Effort
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: social media isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be. If you want your efforts to succeed, you’re going to need to be active. You can’t just throw something at the walls of the Internet, hope it sticks, and walk away (at least, not in the vast majority of cases). You, or someone else in your organization, is going to need to be active on whatever social network you’ve chosen as your platform.
On that note…
3. An Understanding of the Platform
You’ll need a working knowledge of whatever social network you end up running things on. If you’re on Twitter, you need to know what Hash Tags are, how to retweet, how to use the search feature, and how to properly communicate with your users (and avoid spamming them). If you’re on Facebook, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of creating a Facebook page, the process involved in making a Facebook application, and so on and so forth.
4. Creativity and Originality
This one’s probably the most difficult on the list to properly nail down, and unfortunately, there’s really no step-by-step process I can give you as far as being creative is involved: creativity is one of those traits you either possess, or you don’t possess. The good news is that the importance of originality is entirely based on what sort of social campaign you want to run. If you’re simply setting up a presence on Twitter or Facebook to answer questions and respond to comments made by fans of your brand, it’s much less important than if you’re trying to create a viral video that’ll hit the front page of Reddit.
5. A Trustworthy, Genuine Frontman/Woman
I want you to imagine something for me. You’re in a retail outlet, trying to decide which product you want to buy. You speak to the salesman, who is knowledgeable and cheerful, and makes a genuine effort to help you. He doesn’t pressure you to make a decision, nor does he act like he’s entitled to his commission. Any negative comments or concerns you have about a particular product are addressed in a level, mature, and honest fashion. You leave in a good mood, and make a mental note to return to that store the next time you shop.
The next spot you go to isn’t as welcoming. The salesman is urgent, in-your-face, and deceptive. He dodges any criticism you direct at a particular brand, and pushes you to make a sale. He’s more interested in selling you something than helping you decide what to buy, and as a result, you leave the store unsatisfied and unhappy.
Now, apply both scenarios to a social network. Which of these two salesmen do you believe would make a better ‘face’ for a social networking campaign? The answer seems rather obvious, and should, I hope, underscore the importance of having charismatic people at the fore of your social media efforts.
6. Use of the Right Metrics
Without metrics, you aren’t going to know what you’re doing wrong, nor will you be able to definitively say what you’ve done right. I’ve talked a bit about metrics in the past, and choosing the right ones for your business and campaign is as critical as selecting the right platform for your efforts. At the end of the day, you’re very likely going to need some definitive measure of your campaign’s success or failure, as well as any monetary gains it may have made your organization. That’s what metrics are for: ignore them at your own risk.
7. A Brand that isn’t Broken
All I can say is this: sort out any problems with your brand before you even think of jumping into a social network. You need to keep an ear to the ground. Skim through sites such as Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook to see what people are saying about your business. Send out customer satisfaction surveys. Ask yourself what controversies your organization has suffered in the past, and whether or not the hatchet has been buried. Going into social media with a broken or damaged brand is like rubbing salt on a wound:
It’s probably just going to make things worse.
8. Open Discussion
Talk with people, not at them. Engage them in conversation Treat them as colleagues and friends, rather than customers. If you’re on a social network, you aren’t a salesperson; you’re public relations. This should be evident with every action you take. If someone raises a concern about your product or brand; address it directly. Ask them what you can do to help, and try to solve their problem in as diplomatic a fashion as you possibly can. If someone has a question, answer it to the best of your abilities, without being deceptive. If you don’t know the answer, direct them to someone who does, or tell them you’re looking into it and ask an expert yourself.
If you’re friendly, helpful, and genuine with your users; if you talk to them and treat them as people rather than potential sales, your campaign’s likely to pay off, in the long run. Yes, you’re going to run into trolls and problem users, but you should never sink to their level. If you’er diplomatic, professional, and friendly in everything you say and do, they’re the ones who end up looking like fools, not you.
9. Consumer Focus
Whatever you do with your social presence, you need to keep one principle in mind: the customer comes first. Involve people. Make them feel important. Treat them as equals. Consider tossing out interactive content: set up photo contests where the winners get to be on your site’s front page, put out surveys where the consumer gets to help design your next product, or design a website where the customer manages things themselves (as an example, look at what Martell Home Builders did with their website).
Make them feel like they’re the star of the show. Show them that they matter to you, and that what they do is important to your organization. If you do this right, it’ll pay off.
The word “integration” means many things in the context of social media, all dependent on what it is you’re doing. If you’re setting up a viral marketing advertising campaign, integrating things into the real world (a-la Bungie’s I Love Bees) is always a nice touch. If you’re focusing your efforts on Facebook, consider integrating Facebook directly into your organization’s website – you do have a website, right?
This one ties back into the idea of a social media campaign being an active, ongoing effort. You want to do whatever you can to tie your brand in to your social network of choice. What that involves is entirely up to you.