Most businesses are currently establishing their own brand in the social media world. No matter how well they are implementing their social media plans, all companies should take the time to ensure their social media interactions are truly mapping back to their overarching business plans and not detracting employee energy away from the larger picture.
Altimeter Group analysts Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang have been developing some best practices for helping businesses implement social media plans that truly function as part of the business.
The main idea to keep in mind is that social media is not a strategy; the strategy is using social media to deepen relationships with target audiences, whether that is clients, customers or business partners, and using those relationships to achieve business goals.
When developing these plans that utilize social media, companies should keep these seven ideas in mind:
- Focus on the customer relationships, not on the technology that enables those relationships. The technology is merely a vehicle for establishing a bond with your target audience.
- Social media is not a strategy; the strategy is deepening relationships with your target audience and social media is the vehicle through which those relationships are established. Loyal relationships will last no matter what happens to the social network. Friendster anyone?
- Learn about your target audience and determine how that audience can help you realize your business goals. Choose one annual goal to start and determine how social media can have an impact on the success of that objective.
- Once you’ve learned about your target audience, decide if you want to have a dialog with them, want to support them – i.e. customer service - or if you want them to help you innovate – i.e. request product/design ideas, establish a page for reviews. Shape your social media program around this overarching theme.
- When determining success, don’t use the actual number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers as a metric. Establish the value of those followers and then calculate success by judging how good the insight, conversation or ideas provided by the follow are, or measure if they refer others to the company Web site.
- Social media can be established in an organization in three ways: organic, centralized or coordinated. Determine which way best suits your company culture and then utilize that method of interaction.
- Have a contingency plan if the social media plan does not perform as expected. No relationship is perfect, so a business’s first foray into social media might not turn out as expected. However, the only way to succeed is to plan for that possibility and address social media from a different angle the next time.
Focusing on the relationships you build with your target audience and then structuring your social media plans around that goal will enable your company to successfully integrate social media into the overarching business plans.
-- Caitlin Cassady