Here some of the biggest agencies working in social media in the UK offer their top tips for using social media.
Ryan Sackett, Precedent
As Winston Churchill said “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”. Those businesses seeing the rewards of effectively using social media can probably relate to the sentiment of that famous quote.
Inadequately resourced and frequently under staffed, most businesses try to engage in the social spaces using fragments of time snatched from between other things on the to do list. As effective use of social media hinges on the skills, competency and attitude of those creating content and managing the channels i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, why do so many businesses set themselves up for a fall?
As we know, most organisations are unlikely to have the resources for a dedicated social media team, so it’s vital that the virtual team (the experienced/competent/enthusiastic few from across the business) understand their role and are adequately prepared and supported. At the heart of educating and engaging is developing shared understanding.
Effective social media means having an engaged internal (virtual) team that understands social media platforms, what the business is trying to achieve and how they deliver their part of that on an individual level. Stepping stones for success:
- Cover the basics: run an introduction to social media workshop
- Develop specialist skills: run a writing for the web workshop
- Keep on track: create and publish lightweight best practice guidelines
- Maintain the support network: establish (and stick to) regular catch ups for the team.
Success with social media all begins by starting out on the right foot.
Peter Wood, social media account manager, Steak
I’m always amazed at how many people enter the murky waters of Social Media without understanding what they’re doing and why. Social media objectives fall into 4 categories. Brand awareness, lead generation, CRM and community. You need to work out where your idea fits and what you need to do to execute it effectively.
Anyone considering social media strategy should undertake an extensive listening phase. You need to find out who is talking about you online, what they’re saying and where they’re saying it. Find out which of your product categories garners the biggest share of the conversation. You’ll want to know what your competitors are doing online, what they’re doing well, what they’re doing poorly.
Once you’ve completed your exercise, you’ll be able to create a tailored strategy that is built on hard fact. If you don’t have enough brand awareness, you won’t create a strategy based around lead generation. If you’re starting from scratch, you can shelve that community microsite. If your competitors are sinking with online complaints, you’ll be sure to have a solid resource structure in place to handle the volume.
Our top tip is listen, understand then execute.
Kay Hammond, CEO, TAMBA
My top tip for social media is to consider all your communications in the social space as conversations. Social is not about selling but engaging so remembering to ask questions, respond to queries and spread relevant messages from independent sources all of which will position you as a strong influencer. Companies can fear the personal aspect of dialogue in the social media arena so whilst it’s prudent to put a comms professional in the role, it’s important that the audience feels individually communicated with and listened to. Dell (@delluk and @kerryatdell) do this spectacularly!
Social media is not just about the top two players – Facebook and Twitter. So many other platforms have loyal audiences. For example, LinkedIn’s groups are a great source of micro-targeted collectives and Quora is often ignored yet has a really loyal and fast-growing audience. For footfall businesses, the geo-social products like FourSquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla should also be leveraged with rewards and incentives for users who interact.
Robin Wilson, director of social media, McCann Manchester
When you are a brand or organisation embarking on a social media strategy, it’s good to remember that you don’t own social media, they do i.e. people are the ones who control social media not brands. It’s a slightly glib statement, but it’s good to bear in mind.
This means that brands have to behave in a very human way i.e enter into conversation with people: listen and have a two way dialogue. Rather than behaving in a corporate way – broadcasting the brand’s messages to loads of people.
What we find works quite well to plan social strategies, is going through a short 7 step process:
There are shedload of free and paid for tools to monitor conversations in social media, from things like social mention and technorati on the free side, to sophisticated tracking software like Radian 6 and SM2.
Work out how your audience behaves in social media. Forrester’s social technographics ladder is a good tool.
Define what you want to achieve and how you are going to measure it.
How you will change the current relationship with the audience.
What content do you have or easily create with which to engage the audience in conversation?
What channels are best suited to your audience behaviour, strategy and content?
How will you respond, who will respond and what are the response protocols.
We’ve found it’s always worth spending time to thinking these things through before joining the conversations.