December 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
by Susan Hardwicke, Ph.D., and Jason Yu
Whether you’ve jumped into the fray of business social media or just tiptoed in, an end-of-year inventory of your social media efforts is an essential to a jump-start of your business in 2012. The landscape will grow only more competitive. If you haven’t taken a systematic approach to this new relationship technology, it’s not too late. Using this checklist will help get you into shape early in 2012 and begin to discover your market leadership potential.
If you’re one of the thousands of businesspersons who have been too busy running your company to realize that the social media revolution is just beginning, don’t read any further. Just buy any book or guide on social media and start doing it. NOW. As social media sage Erik Qualman aptly said earlier this year, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it (emphasis Qualman’s).” In 2012, make an effort to do it well.
10. Do you have a social media policy for your employees? As more and more people spend hours socializing online, the importance of employees’ clear understanding of the company’s expectations for online behavior only increases. People who identify themselves as your company’s employees and behave inappropriately or who make inappropriate comments about the company stand to tarnish the company’s reputation, not only their own. Ensure that your human resources department has this as an immediate action item, if you are missing this in your employee handbook.
9. Are your company profiles (LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) up to date and complete? Do they welcome visitors to contact you? This is one of the most basic, high pay-off items in the list. Make this a routine at least every six months and put it on a list of items associated with major events such as a move, merger, or name change.
8. Who in the company is responsible for social media strategy? If you can’t answer this question, move this item to the top of your to-do list. If you can answer this question, and the answer is more than 3, make consolidating responsibility one of your priorities for 2012. And don’t forget integrating social media into key organizational activities.
7. Are you building an email subscriber database using social media (invitations and offers, for example) and methods such as ebooks or white papers? The volume of your email subscriber database is not as important as it was even two years ago. People open emails that are important to them at the moment they see them in the inbox. You have a split second to get their attention, even if you are a company they value.
6. Are you monitoring your reputation online? How many times and ways do you Google your company (or your professional name) and search various channels to learn what people—customers, employees, and vendors—are saying about you? Even if you are using a reputation management company or software, you need to check to ensure it’s doing its job.
5. Is your website “social media friendly”? Do you have a blog, Facebook widget for comments, and an article share widget? If the answer is “no,” don’t wait until 2012 to fix this problem. Social media widgets are now expected as the contact form on your website. If you don’t have one, savvy technology users will view you as clueless.
4. Are you attracting enough “likes” on Facebook and has your Twitter “followership” increased at a steady pace over the past six months? Are your “likes” and “followers” greater than your competitors’? The number of followers and likes needs to be geared toward your business. A local small business marketing to other local businesses might be well served by only 150-200 likes, a number that is ridiculously low for any consumer business other than a hot dog stand. If your followership is too low, it’s an indicator that you don’t have your finger on the pulse of your customer base. If your competitors’ are even lower, you have an opportunity to grab mindshare and become a market leader.
3. Have you evaluated any of the following for their applicability to your business?
- Mobile Apps
Staying on top of the latest developments in social media and analyzing if and when to deploy is as essential to business as monitoring the right financial index is to your portfolio.
2. Are you tracking customer (and potential customer) contacts, click streams, and other data and USING it to change how you interact with your customers? Nearly all companies have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that typically ends up in silos, unused. The new buzzword is Customer Intimacy (CI), and it will remain just that, a buzzword, without merging data from multiple sources and using the best minds in the company to innovate new ways to interact with customers.
1. Do you emphasize engagement more than broadcasting to your contacts? The “push” mentality is the most difficult marketing mindset to break, as it tends to permeate the paradigms of advertising, public relations, promotions, and sales. Consider how your behavior and attitude toward direct mail, and even email, has changed in the past two years. If you send unwanted direct mail and emails to the physical and virtual trashcans, why would you expect your customers to behave differently? A fundamental way of engaging is the blog (including micro-blog channels, such as Twitter). A recent study by a social media company revealed that blogging between 16 and 20 times per month had twice the website traffic than businesses that blogged less frequently.
November 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
#6. Expecting too much too soon. Some of our clients come to us expecting the phone to ring or contact requests to flood their email inbox within days of implementing a social media strategy. With the increasing information overload in all forms of media, the length of time from initial impression to engagement or conversion can only increase. Through successful customer intimacy, companies can continuously refine their approach and successively decrease that time interval.
March 10, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Outsourcing all of your Social Media effort. If you believe that Social Media is like an IT project or phone system that you can just outsource without understanding it, you are likely to devalue its importance and make bad decisions when it’s time to prioritize the use of funds. The time you take to understand the importance of Social Media and how each channel works, along with online ads, will be well worth the effort. A corollary is using an all-volunteer force who may not have expertise needed to gather and disseminate the data you need, or recognize a problem or opportunity soon enough. Volunteers are essential; but they must be trained, and organized by professionals on your team. As Newt Gingrich said in an interview with PBS NewsHour during the 2010 elections: “We advise every candidate to have as big a budget for new media as you have for radio and television.”
March 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
By now everybody knows that if you aren’t utilizing social media, you simply aren’t communicating.
If you don’t know that, chances are you come from that remote rainforest tribe they just discovered in the Amazon. But don’t worry, there is help out there.
For a politician, the meaning of this global trend is clear and the future is set. Social media is the landscape over which future races will be won and lost. The only problem is that social media is always changing. You’ve got to stay on top of it, and you’ve got to stay involved every day, around the clock.
The twin cornerstones today involve Facebook and Twitter—with a healthy dose of YouTube and blogging thrown in.
Facebook has become that ubiquitous place where many people around the world simply “hang-out” now instead of watching television, or while watching television, or while carrying their mobile phones throughout their day. Some people check it like people used to check their watches. It keeps the time of their customized personal world.
As a politician, you have to meet them there and entice them to your website where they can learn more information about your campaign and goals. It’s not enough to just have a profile or personal page, now a “fan” site is crucial to spreading your message easily and widely.
Twitter is another behemoth in the social media world—a place where you can give real time updates and personal interaction with your constituents. Any message you want, any time of day, can be sent out to your followers—but you won’t build a healthy following unless you engage with the medium and treat it with respect. The key word in social media circles is authenticity. That means steady and consistent updates direct from the source, as well as interaction that is meaningful and not simply glorified spam. People know the difference. What they want is the latest news without the filter of traditional media.
One reason traditional print media has been fading is because people are reading news stories there that they already read days or weeks ago on Twitter—it makes the old forms redundant and stale.
What you want is that when people Google your name—the social media channels that you control and have filled with content will be the top results. Search engine optimization is key.
Stay tuned for our next entry, which touches on You Tube and the fact that now, people don’t just debate your political television ad. They recreate it with endless remixes. You want to make sure that your message isn’t subverted and that you remain in control of your strategy and image.