By Carl Da-Costa-Greaves
Ok, so we all know about social media; Facebook and MySpace are officially entrenched in society; Twitter is closing ranks, with corporate blogging on its heels. Because of this popularity many companies conclude that the time is right for them to enter this new found ‘meeting space’. However, the question shouldn’t be ‘is social media ready for you’? But more like, ‘are you ready for social media’?
We’ve put together a hit list of things that companies, in particular business to business, should run a check on prior to doing any social media campaigns;
1. Does your senior management team understand? And even more so, do they support social media? This is one of the single biggest road blocks to making social media work.
2. The Corporate website – Before you take the next step on the web, it’s important to have a good foundation. If your current site needs a new design or has usability issues and doesn’t really reflect your business, then direct users to the current site first rather than to a social media space. Social media can wait. Leveraging social media comes with a new set of customer exceptions. At the top of that list is a usable and robust web site.
3. You love the web but does the web love you? For social media to help impact organic search traffic it’s important that your organisation goes through some basic optimisation of your web pages.
4. No rest for the wicked – a lot of social media is free, but they also take time. If you currently don’t even have time to read emails let alone post regular engaging content and be available to respond, then don’t pile on social media to your workload. Get support to make it happen.
5. How do you know if all is going well? If you’re going to spend time on the web then you need to manage your analytics and report statistics, hit rates etc, in order to gauge response and traffic. Google do a free analytics tools (amongst others – good ole Google!) Without information like this your social media strategy is about as focused as a gozzy kid with a patch on his eye. (I should know, I was that kid!)
6. What was I trying to say again? Social media can work for the good and the bad. If your message isn’t clear or you haven’t work out your positioning, then these weaknesses will be highlighted. Try to work out exactly what it is you’re trying to say before saying it.
7. To be heard but not seen – like it or not, transparency is a very important part of online culture. You don’t have to Tweet every business secret, but an expectation exists. If you can’t be sufficiently transparent then wait until you can.
8. My customers aren’t always right – If customer service isn’t a priority for your business then you’re going to find out sooner rather than later that social media doesn’t help the issue. That being said your customers are talking about you. The best way to fix poor customer service is to get them involved in the process to make it better.
9. ‘I “don’t” want that one’ – If your product’s a bit rubbish then social media will only help to tell more people that it’s rubbish. The only positive thing that would come out of this is that you’ll get valuable real-time feedback. However you’re probably better off focusing on making a better product rather than spending time on social media.
10. Sales Funnel looking like a garden hose? If you’re looking at social media as a possible lead generation source then it’s important to have a sales funnel that works to back these efforts up. Organise your sales process and all contacts through an effective CRM system.
Many of these items may seem obvious, but that’s the point. Social media isn’t a magic cure-all system. It can make bad things worse and good things better. My overall recommendation is that if you’re still in the investigative stage, keep on researching. Research is good, evaluate and think critically about how your customers will perceive you. It makes sense to get rid of the bad habits before you start.
If you want to read more about social media, in particular with regards to e-marketing then take a look at a previous post here; http://www.studiowide.co.uk/blog/?p=74