With the emergence and maturity of the social media sites, the amount of activity on the web is hard to keep track of. Considering you can access the web from an almost unlimited number of contact points across the globe, it becomes difficult to manage all the content, let alone what pertains to you. Add the layer of complexity that once something is posted, it may be impossible to remove it completely, you begin to see the challenge.
When it comes to web based content, you have to find a way to control what is being said, at least from within your organization and those connected to you. You want consistency of message and some semblance of order to it all. We recommend you develop a social media strategy.
What is a social media strategy? It is a document that outlines your traditional media elements, like print, radio and television, then adds your social sites participation and content to the mix. Most small businesses have some level of presence on Facebook and LinkedIn. Others have added a company blog and Twitter to the portfolio. The advanced users have included YouTube in their distribution of content. With so many touch points that can be easily searched on the web, you can see how the challenge can develop from a small issue to a big problem. The most advanced are using the latest marketing tools, like QR codes and short codes to tie their total message together.
What is included in a social media strategy? We recommend you list each of the elements you have in your plan then begin to decide what will be posted on each. Remember, many of these new online tools are more conversational, not just comments. While you desire to educate and inform, you must desire to create opportunities for an exchange of ideas. For better control of your brand, you must participate in these conversations. Considering things like themes and categories will help you tie it all together. An example of a theme would be Leadership, while a category could be Business Tips.
To get started you could begin to meet users on the web in the various forums available, like LinkedIn groups. Conduct a search and find several that are related to your industry, product or service. Consider doing a blog search (Google permits you to search blogs exclusively under their “More” dropdown menu) to gain some valuable insight. A carefully crafted survey is also a great way to meet new people. These can be done with online survey tools or by using the polling function inside LinkedIn or other social sites.
Next, ensure you have a Facebook business page, a LinkedIn group for your company, an account on Twitter and a channel on YouTube for your videos. Some have posted presentations on LinkedIn via Slideshare, which is searchable by Google and can provide a solid impact for your business. Subscribe to Google Alerts and consider creating a Technorati account. Don’t forget to pay close attention to those who subscribe to your blog with FeedBurner or similar tool.
What are the expected results? You want to grow brand awareness, leverage your current marketing results and methods, get more sales and use the audience to improve your product or service quality. Measurement of the results is somewhat easier than traditional marketing elements. For example, Facebook tracks fans of your business page. Simply jot down your fans before your current campaign begins, then check it again at specific intervals, like every 7 days. Twitter users followers, so you can easily do the same here. Monitoring all mentions of you company, program or other thing specific to your organization can be accomplished via RSS feeds and searches. Posts to your blog and links to other sites is also powerful here. Capturing the data before the launch, then monitoring the growth moving forward, will help you adjust and refine your social media strategy. Within months, if not weeks, you should see your programs taking shape.
We wish you the best the internet has to offer. At The HiPath Group, we are here to serve. The HiPath Group, when expertise and experience matter.