By Jasmine Sandler at ClickZ:
I started to write this column about Twitter and the media and then started thinking, wait - aren't people more interested right now in the 99 new Twitter tools and apps? And then my mind went to the fact that in a conversation this week, a client came to me stressed over all the LinkedIn changes, so I was going to write about that. So, what do I have for you? Something I think we all can relate to at this point. There is some serious social media overload. So, how do you manage it and make it work for you? In this column, I will share five key ways to manage your social media marketing so you can sleep at night and see social media working for you.
- Have a social media channel plan that makes sense. As I wrote in a previous ClickZ column on the five ways to create your social media marketing plan, it is crucial for any organization to have a social media plan in place. Your plan must tie back to company goals and those goals should tell you a little bit about where you need to spend your time. For example, if your goal is to drive brand awareness around a new tech product, you might lean toward Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Trying to get people to buy your new consumer product? Perhaps a strong Facebook campaign makes sense. Looking to generate five new qualified business professional leads a month? LinkedIn Premium subscription in using InMail, OpenLink, and advanced search and save features can certainly help.
- Have a content plan that is reasonable. The key to engagement in social is delivering content that is shareable and engaging. This can range from posts, comments, articles, infographics, videos, data sheets, etc. (you get the point). If you have a small team, you cannot expect to push out new original content every day. You might be able to do one blog post a week, one email newsletter a month, etc. If you are small and are selling one product or service, then your content plan can be easily managed. If you are a larger organization, your content plan can be thematic or driven by product set, but it must be reasonable in terms of who it is and how it is being managed. Without a content plan in place, you will find yourself and your team wasting precious time mismanaging social media.
- Have the right social media resources. This is the absolute key to your social media success or failure. Social media, as many say, is now a sophisticated marketing tool and must be treated as such. The right people must be in place to manage it effectively (toward your brand goals). This means making sure you have an appropriate approval system in place with the brand manager at the top. Also, that you have an experienced team managing the setup, content distribution, community management, and social outreach. And that you have someone on your team who can write and is a subject matter expert. And finally, that you have someone on board who understands social analytics and can adjust social levers upon review of social results to drive up performance.
- Don't jump to every social media change - stick to your plan. With changes in social networks happening every second, it is all too easy to get thrown off track and get unfocused on your social media goals. Like any marketing initiative, following a well-thought-out and developed plan and adjusting for changes in the marketplace, competitive environment, and audience behaviors is best practices. Just because a new app or new opportunity to advertise on a social network happens, does not mean you necessarily need to engage immediately. Any changes to your social media marketing program should be tested and reviewed for driving positive results. One of the pieces of advice we provide, for example, is to set aside a small portion of resources (time and money) each quarter to test any new social initiatives. In this way, you will have scale ability built into your social programs to account for environmental changes; but will also stay the course on your developed social media plan.
- Have a social customer service process. Social media networks are the perfect breeding ground for reputation damage. Make sure that you are a step ahead of the game by managing your social media sentiment. With regular monitoring of your audiences' positive or negative mentions of your brand and by getting regular alerts on these with simple tools like Social Mention or Google Alerts or more sophisticated tools like Viralheat or HootSuite, you will more easily be able to manage how your brand is perceived in social. This insight will also aid in determining where you best serve your audience and with what content. With hard data on your target behavior and interest around your brand in social, you can deliver better customer service, faster, beating out your competition.
I hope these five steps will help you and your organization to manage your social media overload. With a clear mind and focused marketing goals, you have the best chance for success in this crazy world of social media. The topic of social media is absolutely huge. These steps are simply intended to give you some peace of mind as you navigate these waters. I welcome any comments and feedback and as always, I look forward to following up in my next ClickZ social media article.