6 Strategies for Developing Your Social Media Tactical Plan

Monday, September 27, 2010
People are chatting online about YOUR brand in social media channels and you should have a strategy to engage in these conversations. Ignoring the conversations – or delving in without a plan – is a missed opportunity.  You should engage in conversations and add value in conversations. I would also recommend creating and sharing your company’s social media policy publicly. Learn how to use social media to shift brand perceptions and increase online sales. Consider these strategies as you develop you own social media strategy. 

1.   Listen Before You Speak
Listening in social media channels and researching your market are well-known prerequisites to entering into social media marketing channels. However, you should keep your ears open.   Listening, more than you speak is a great way to hear what is really being said about your brand or product.

2.   Don’t Be Intrusive 
Knowing when to refrain from joining in on a conversation is just as important as knowing when to add input in a conversation.  When dealing with one-on-one conversations (a conversation between two people) - such as on Facebook- is not necessarily a good place to add your company’s point of view. Doing so would be intrusive and could upset the consumers chatting online. Places such as public forums and blog posts are much more appropriate to add your comments.   

Avoid pitching promotions in social media at random because barging in on conversations with offers does not fit with a strategy of listening and adding value and can be perceived as pushy and hard selling.

3.   When Joining in on Conversations – Add Value
Look for opportunities to add your input to relevant conversations online. It is relevant to discuss related topics to your brand, especially when participating in group discussions. When you find a group of people online discussing a related topic, add your point of view and share a link to your online resources.  People often compare products in blogs and forums, or discuss in social channels which product they should buy. In these cases, respond with third-party reviews and sample videos or photos about your products. The key is to provide information to help the consumer decide – not to barge in and offer a discount. 

If you hear complaints about your brand, respond with a link to potential solutions. For example, if you hear a person complaining about your product, try sending a link to the manual of that product along with customer service contact information.  Some of the most powerful words you can say in social media are “How can I answer your questions?”  or “How can I help you?”

When you hear misinformation being discussed online about your company brand or product, be quick to dispel myths. When you find this misinformation, respond as quickly as possible. Using tools such as Google alerts, Twitter alerts and many others available help you monitor real-time conversations for a quick response. 

4.   Put Real People Behind Your Brand 
Strike a balance between having social media participants speak about your brand and having them show their personality.  Establishing and showing real people behind your brand is important since no one really wants to talk to a logo icon. They want to speak with a real person.  Also, if someone is angry, they’re more likely to tone down their language when dealing with a real person versus an online presence. 

5.   Treat Business Customers and Consumers Differently 
Have a different message that goes out to your business customers that is different than the generic message that goes out to consumers. Interact differently with business customers. Strive to raise awareness and establish thought leadership by creating relevant content, such as blog posts, frequently asked questions or whitepapers that contribute to relevant conversations online.  Refer commentators to educational content, as it provides a deeper engagement in terms of the types of information you share.  Remember, it is not about a generic Facebook wall post that speaks to everyone in your community.

6.  Transparency is Paramount 
When engaging in social media; make it easy for others to identify who is speaking. This transparency establishes trust for people to know and like you on line.  Try creating a formal social media policy for all employees to follow if you have them speak on behalf of your company.  This takes transparency a step further by publicly releasing a social media tips book which contains your social media policy. Some of your guidelines may include  (1) uphold your company’s values;(2) be transparent and be yourself; (3) protect confidential information; (4) avoid unsubstantiated product claims; (5) be aware that linking to another site may imply endorsement of its content.  Publishing this information shows consumers that you have nothing to hide in the social media space. 

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