By Natalie Winslow, Chief Marketing Officer at Commerce Kitchen and
I’ve been managing social media accounts for a variety of businesses for the past four years. In that time I’ve learned that most people know they need a social media presence for their organization, but they don’t know how to determine if it’s working.
Defining what works is subjective, but please keep in mind that your client base is on social media, and they are looking for you there.
What do you want to get out of social media and is it realistic?
Before planning a social media strategy you need to ask yourself what you expect to get out of social media. Do you want it to sell your products and services? To build your brand? To supplement your website?
Write some clear, concrete goals and outcomes.
Your desired outcomes might look like this:
- Increase my following on Facebook by 10 followers a month
- Increase referral traffic from Twitter by 10%
- Increase conversions from Pinterest by 25%
Then ask yourself or a marketing expert how realistic your expectations are. I’ve met many people in many industries who have decided they need social media without considering how or if it will be effective.
You can have an incredibly active social media presence that does not actually bring you business, and you can also spend a lot of time and money on social media without seeing direct return.
However, the absence of direct return metrics does not mean social media is useless. Here are two significant, but less obviously measurable ways that social media works:
Building brand through social media advertising
Depending on your industry, using social media advertising can be great for building your brand. We’re currently working with travel startup Trip30 and through carefully executed Facebook advertising we’ve grown their fan base to nearly 6500 people. And the product has yet to launch!
This means that we have 6500 people who are already interested in and engaging with the brand, and once the product is live we have a set group of people to tap into for promotional purposes.
To do this type of brand building successfully you must consider the broader community you’re part of. Your brand should be a natural extension of the community rather than an intrusive voice that’s demanding a piece of the pie.
Provide your community–your target audience or client–with information they care about. Social media shouldn’t be a one-way street.
- Follow 50 new people a month who are active in my online community
- Retweet one thought-leader a day
- Post one link a week to a relevant website that is not my own
- Spend $10 a day on a Facebook ad to engage my community
Social media as customer service
Recently our Internet service was down at the office. I called Comcast and was put on hold for more than twenty minutes. Frustrated by the wait, I tweeted at them and instantly got a response.
Even if you’re a small business, people will use social media to praise you, complain about you, and ask you questions. If you’re unresponsive or do not even have social profiles then your client base will perceive this as a customer service flaw.
Using social media as a customer service tool will require some training in best practices for your staff. They need to know how and when to respond, the best approach to take with various emotional interactions, and when to ask for help from the executive team.
- Respond to complaints within 24 hours
- Respond to praise within five hours
- Respond to questions within one hour
Social Media Works
Regardless of how many conversions social media brings you, you’ll need to decide how to measure its effectiveness for your business.
It can be incredibly difficult to measure the impact your presence has on your overall business strategy, but there are many analytics resources that can help you determine your social reach.
Before beginning your social strategy do your research. Create goals and outcomes. Work with a consultant who knows what they’re doing. And keep in mind that social media is another piece in a holistic online strategy.