Social media secret: you must manage, monitor, and maintain it
Once your social media strategy is defined, management becomes important. You’ll need to know how to manage, monitor and maintain your social media presence in order to grow it into the the audience you want to attract. To get familiar with a social media site you are new to, consider opening a personal account and testing it out.
Management isn’t an exact science
- You can’t control the message or things people say about your offering, but you can try to convince others you care about their issues and want to help resolve them. Try to take ‘heated’ discussions offline or into private email exchanges to minimize tarnishing your image from an unhappy customer.
- Monitoring and tracking tools are available to help you know what’s being said and shared about your business – see free tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck. Unfortunately, these monitoring and tracking tools do not allow you to control what’s said or shared, so they are a little limiting. On the positive side, these tools help you know whether your social media efforts are worthwhile or whether you need to be more proactive to prevent a tarnished image, so they are important to use.
- Understand how the target audience uses the social media site and how the site’s features will impact prospecting efforts. For instance, if using Facebook, encourage individuals to ‘like’ your campaign; their support will propagate to their wall or home page for their network to see instantly. If you use LinkedIn, encourage users to add a comment to a discussion thread; their comment will float to the top of the discussion and be propagated to their network of contacts.
- Participating in social media is like attending a party. Don’t forget your manners and be sure to listen and share your thoughts in a respectful way. Remember, not all people with agree with you. Disagreements are fine, but be civil as you don’t want something you’ve said to be taken out of context and used against you later inappropriately.
Keep in mind…
Opening a social media account on a personal level is different than representing a company or a nonprofit organization. A company has an image and culture to protect, impacting their bottom line. An individual does not have those responsibilities, although a tarnished reputation could limit social and professional interactions.
Motivate users to share
What motivates users to share content, and which social media or communication vehicles are they most likely to use? There are multiple drivers that may motivate them. Perhaps they are interested in:
- Sharing content to be helpful or for altruistic reasons
- Gaining a reputation of bringing value to others
- Trying to be hip or cool
- Just interested in seeing others react or being controversial
- Simply connecting with others
- Being a trendsetter
- Sharing only on a selective basis
- Trying to get something from you, the business they endorse, in return
- Helping a cause
Once you understand their motivators, then you’ll understand how to write your content to appeal to that factor and provide site features those visitors are most likely to use. Software tools are available to help craft content that’s picked up by search engines, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to help increase traffic to your site.
Think about who your users are…
- Each individual using social media has personal and professional networks. Some social media websites enable users to separate their contacts into separate groups, but most people will have contacts that bridge both their professional and personal lives. Depending upon your offering or message, stay away from topics that may be offensive or inappropriate to both groups. For instance, a business that sells its products to a broad customer base may want to avoid giving political advice or opinions on religious activities.
- Visitors need to trust your website – that it will be functioning and have the information they want to direct others to – before they will share it with others. Don’t ignore basic branding, plus look and feel aspects of your website. A website that looks poor and is difficult to understand or navigate, won’t be shared for the right reasons.
- Users control their profile’s security settings and have different levels of online prowess, which may help or hinder your ability to reach all of your network’s contacts.
Follow best practices
- Assign responsibility for managing posts and have guidelines or a social media policy in place to promote a positive user experience and interaction with your brand. Include an escalation plan with appropriate parties to notify should an inappropriate comment – such as a sensitive legal or political issue – be posted. Whenever possible, try to avoid legal ramifications that can also surface from sharing via social media.
- Thank users for following you or sharing positive reviews of your business and its offerings.
- Don’t be afraid to comment and share stories by others. You should add to the conversation; not focus only on your offerings. You’ll be easier to ignore and won’t foster trust if others think you’re only interested in yourself. Become an industry thought leader, or a source for unbiased content, which followers can trust and share.
- Postings are a 1 to many relationship, but platform messaging can be 1 to 1. Use each to your benefit. For instance, social media can be used to help with customer service issues that apply to a group of customers, but it’s best to handle more sensitive issues with direct messaging.
- Use analytics to determine where, when, and how you can improve performance or increase engagement.
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