Social Media is here with us. Whether you like it or not, customers are talking about your organization / brand in the social networks. Brands must embrace and join social media since this is where customers are having conversations. The question is not whether brands should join social media or not, but whether they are doing it right. Social media is a room with high velocity of information and a lot of tact is required to achieve great results. For this reason, I will address myself to the issue of Strategy because I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing what brands / corporates do in the digital space.
The first thing that is critical when thinking of a social media strategy is to ensure that before joining social media, train your staff. I have over-and-over thought about the merits of out-sourcing social media from an agency or doing it internally. I have come to the conclusion that your own staffs are best suited to deal with social media as they have your brand’s DNA. Your staffs understand the products and services offered more than anyone else. However, an agency would be useful for running marketing campaigns and offering internal training. The person facing your customers online must be confident; must know what to say and how to say it. This happens by training staff as social media is a new platform for engaging customers for most brands. Once you’ve trained your staff, empower them by giving them the resources that they need to do the job. Resources here may include; fast / reliable Internet, PC / laptop, a tablet / a smartphone and a social media management system.
While joining social media, it is useful to ask yourself what objectives and goals you intend to achieve. The best practice is to align your social media goals with the overall business objectives. For example, your business objectives could be increasing market size, increasing sales, getting more leads, or getting better customer satisfaction. Your social media goals should not be separate from the objectives that the business wants to achieve.
Altimeter Group asserts that there are social media risks to a business that you must identify, such as;
- Reputational risks
- Regulatory and compliance violation risks.
- Legal and privacy risks.
- Operational risks.
There is therefore the need to come up with plans on how to assess and mitigate those risks in order to reduce their impact to your business.
We live in a 24-hours news-cycle, and the issue of constant surveillance and monitoring is critical. Big brands should have online listening and monitoring systems that gives you alerts when your brand is mentioned online. Online monitoring systems scan the whole internet landscape – blogs, sites, social networks and give you useful intelligence or data. There are listening platforms that can analyze and give you meaningful reports such as the tone of sentiments from customers- whether they are positive, neutral or negative. These data is useful to executives as it shows trends that will help them in decision-making.
Brands should also ensure they master the practice of responding quickly to customer queries. Social media is a viral medium and the longer you take to respond to an angry customer, the more negative and agitated the customer becomes. Faster turnaround times are critical to an online customer service. For advanced companies, the issue of taking eight hours to respond to an online query shouldn’t even arise.
The other issue is identifying and building an internal team of champions / advocates who will help push your messages out. These are your online ambassadors that help amplify positive messages.
There is also the critical issue of having a social media policy. Not many Kenya brands on social media have a policy document that sets the guidelines or the rules of engagement. A social media policy will address best practices and empower staff to use social media responsibly. A good social media policy must not be very restrictive as this would be counter-productive.
The last thing I would address is that anyone who wants to understand social media must keep learning. New platforms and channels will constantly be introduced in the market. The ability to learn them and identify which one best works for your organization is very important.
Article originally published at http://cio.co.ke/
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