Social channels have reached consumer adoption rates well past critical levels and now command attention and budget in most businesses as important and expected points of contact with consumers. In the process social channels have forever changed the way that companies do business. Businesses have responded with planning, hiring, and budgeting across a number of key business areas, adapting business process and procedures to new social behaviors as opportunities to stay in tune and in touch with consumer expectations. Along the way they have learned how to adapt and apply unique strategies that adjust to precisely defined business needs and specific audience and channel characteristics to avoid a one-size-fits-all social strategy.
Brands, audiences, and social channels all have unique and defining characteristics that should govern a goals-based approach to social. Clearly establishing those prioritized social goals early on will help determine the most effective use for each social effort and suggest unique KPIs, tools, content approaches, and team structures to fit some of the more common social usage modes listed below.
Digital Customer Service
An estimated 67 percent of consumers have contacted a brand via their social channels for assistance, often using Facebook and Twitter to obtain real-time customer service. Immediate response validates consumer concerns and builds loyalty when issues are resolved. Plus, the message is often multiplied, as other consumers who may have similar concerns or issues gain the benefit when this takes place in a public forum. This method of customer service requires continuous monitoring of brand pages and a predetermined method for handling situations that may arise, so it’s crucial to staff your team accordingly.
HR and Recruiting Efforts
In addition to real-time contact with consumers, part of the beauty of social media is the ability for brands to be more transparent and human. Strategic use of social channels can shift the consumer view of a brand from a non-differentiated corporation to something much more personal and relatable. Showcasing employees, company culture, and behind-the-scenes moments in this way can help significantly with recruiting efforts. Use this to your advantage by highlighting how your organization is one that clients would want to work with and talent would want to work for. Focusing on candid shots rather than perfectly polished photos can help to maintain authenticity on your page.
Corporate Communications and Investor Relations
Social media may seem like all fun and games, but it can also be a prime outlet for corporate communications. Whether via a like or a follow, your connections have chosen to be part of your audience and have elected that ongoing connection and communication. Keep them informed about company news and industry insights using the social channel of their choice.
Marketing and Promotions
The sharing mindset of the social audience and the sharing tools built into social channels lend themselves to highly productive contests and promotions. Reward your audience for being fans with exclusive deals and offers or grow your fan base with content relevant sweepstakes and games. Small incentives can go a long way when it comes to increasing loyalty.
A strong social presence will incorporate a mix of content that addresses your indentified business needs while keeping your followers engaged. Know your audiences across each platform and work to strike a balance in the type of content you’re supplying to avoid becoming predictable or stagnant.
Once you have a strategy in place, it’s critical to ensure you have the appropriate resources to implement that strategy consistently without straining the organization. When it comes to the routine management of pages, it’s ideal to have a dedicated team (either internally or through an agency partner) with clearly delineated roles. Adequate time should be allotted for creating content as well as monitoring the page and responding to users. Tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social make it easy to monitor all of your pages while seamlessly collaborating with team members.
Set both your team and your tools up to report on the actionable metrics that will inform future content decisions so that a beneficial feedback loop is established to support iterative learning. Use benchmarks that are specific to your company and map back directly to the objectives outlined in your content strategy. Whether you’re working to increase the size of your fan base or get more engagement, examine the current state of each and set realistic goals for your team to work toward.
Social media continues to evolve as an extremely versatile channel that can be used to support numerous business needs. Its versatility is a boon to the careful planner but, like most strategic endeavors, if handled in an undifferentiated manner will be anything but strategic.