At the core of every endeavor is a mission statement, and that mission statement is built on values. What does your company value? What got you started on the crazy adventure of running a business, organization or campaign? The answer to those questions shapes everything you do on a daily basis and can naturally tie into your social strategy too.
One of the signs that you’re not spending enough time on your strategy is a lack of cohesion in “voice.” What does that mean? Content is all over the place and copy sounds like it comes from a multitude of authors instead of a single, confident source. If this scatter-brained approach sounds a bit like you, it’s time to revisit your values and build your approach to social media from there.
How can the mission of your business or organization naturally dovetail with your digital marketing efforts? Here are some examples.
Looking to peel back the curtain and let folks see what’s going on behind the scenes? Social media provides access and dispels secrecy. You can have open and ongoing conversations about changes in staff that might make your followers nervous or a move to a new location that could have some fans bummed out. If part of your mission is to be open and accessible, sharing news and information about yourself is a natural extension of that directive.
Is part of your mission to deliver the best customer service experience possible? Social media has become a go-to destination for fans with customer service questions. A robust approach to monitoring and handling requests in a timely way is a vital part of a sound social strategy. That means making sure you have enough dedicated staff hours to keeping an eye on all of your social platforms and being ready to deal with things like undelivered packages or misplaced orders.
Maybe you’re networking to organize around a social cause, or maybe you just want a way to stay in touch with the many people who visit your store every day. Social networks allow an unprecedented level of connection. If part of your mission is to break out of your silo and engage like minded individuals, businesses or organizations around you, working on social media is a dynamic tool to help you live out that goal.
Those are three big directives that can start to shape the framework of how you approach social media, but don’t forget that the values you practice in person everyday should also be reflected in the way you work on social media. Do you have an office culture built around expressing gratitude towards your co-workers? You can extend that into your social strategy by thanking customers and followers too. If part of your organization’s ethical philosophy involves protecting the privacy of your staff members, that could mean staying far away from content that shines a bright light on employees. If, above all, you value stirring the pot, taking shots at authority figures or subverting the normal order of things, your social strategy should be a direct reflection of that irreverent spirit.So which comes first--the chicken or the egg? Without a strong sense of your values and mission, it’s hard to build a social strategy that accomplishes your goals. If your social strategy is ailing, it might be a sign that you’re not sure exactly what it is you’re trying to communicate to the rest of the world in any medium. Take on the task of defining your values and a social strategy that feels more authentic to you and your followers is sure to follow.
Hell hath no fury like a loyal customer scorned, especially when that customer is armed with social media tools and ready to broadcast their rage to the rest of their network with just one click. Wading into a landscape where customers and brands are interacting at an unprecedented level can seem like walking through a landmine at times. One wrong move, and...kaboom!
So how do you avoid turning a legion of followers into a firing squad? Well, crossing your fingers and hoping that you never upset your customers is a nice wish, but it’s unlikely to happen. Here are a few tips for avoiding confrontations with customers online.
Be transparent and honest
If something goes wrong, apologize. Most customers are reasonable people, and they’ll appreciate the fact that you owned up to a mistake. Honestly explaining what went wrong will go a long way in mending your relationship.
Destroy Your Doppelgangers
Staying away from social media? You may think you’re sidestepping the issue of dealing with customers entirely, but that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t doing it for you! By staying off of social media, you might be creating a vacuum that lets a copycat impersonate you. Who knows what they could be saying on your behalf. Get online and root out your doppelgangers by becoming the official voice for your own business.
Don’t Go After Customers
Don’t get engaged in petty squabbles on social media and don’t continue to badger customers after you’ve resolved an issue. Don't take the bait either. Customers might try to lure you into a fight, but take the higher ground.
Avoid Polarizing Topics
Think of social media like the Thanksgiving table. Do you really want to bring up volatile issues like politics and religion? If your business (or non-profit organization) is built around taking a decisive stance on some issue, then you should always make your point of view loud and clear. But make sure you’re always promoting respectful dialogue. You’re more likely to win hearts and minds and lose less followers.
Social media is a real time medium. The rules of engagement for social media demand a quick response from you. If you’re not monitoring closely, you might easily miss the fact that someone is loudly complaining about you. Several people may actively be calling you out and soon enough you’ll have a full blown PR issue on your hands.
Resolve Things Privately
You don’t have to drag out your dirty laundry in front of everyone. Make use of private messaging features that you can find on most social media platforms. If someone brings up an issue that’s better resolved between the two of you, kindly ask them to direct message you, or take the lead and message them first.
Dealing with a particularly angry person can always leave a bad taste in your mouth. Sometimes, they come on so aggressively that it’s hard not to snap back. Take a deep breath, relax and listen. What they’re saying about you might hurt at first, but with some time and a truly open mind, you might discover that a complaint sets the stage for important changes you need to make.
Have you dealt with the mighty wrath of an enraged customer before? Have they put you on blast to all of their friends? Sometimes it helps to think about that customer coming into your store and dealing with you in person. What would you say to them? What would you offer to make it up to them? Share your approach to disgruntled customers in the comments section below and include some ways that you can translate that to the world of social media.
With only two weeks left until Christmas, we’re racing towards one of the most important days of the holiday season. One refrain echoes through the minds of most business owners: There isn’t enough time! If you’re still personally handling your social media, it’s easy to see why this season can seem unmanageable. Here are four reasons why Social Sonar could be the best gift you give yourself this year.
Open Up Time so You Can Tackle Other Projects
How many ideas and grand schemes for your business do you have slowly cooking on the back burner? Maybe they’ve been simmering there for the better part of the year without the chance of growing to fruition because you haven’t had the time to really flesh them out. If you’re dreaming of launching new ideas in 2014, the clock is ticking. There’s no time like the present to get preparations underway. Letting someone else take the reins of your social media efforts can open up time for you to work on the projects that you’re really passionate about. Who knows--that idea you’ve been toying with could be what takes your business to the next level in the upcoming year.
Take a Break, You Deserve It!
As a business owner, you pour yourself into your work every day. For entrepreneurs and sole proprietors, it’s hard to draw the line that determines where your business ends and your personal life begins. The balancing act is even trickier right now because the holidays present great business opportunities but are also full of social gatherings that you don’t want to miss out on. Taking one thing off your plate during the holidays can open up opportunities to spend time with the people that matter. Don’t miss out on important opportunities to connect with friends and family because you’re knee-deep in tweets and Facebook comments. We’ll handle your social media efforts so that you can celebrate with the people closest to you.
Coordinate Marketing Efforts
Is your marketing department working overtime during the holidays? This time of year can seem like a race to reach customers, which can leave members of your communications team feeling overwhelmed. Having a dedicated user that works with your marketing team to carry out your social media strategy takes some of the stress off of you. That way, you can keep an eye on the bigger marketing picture and know that your social strategy is working in close conjunction with it.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? The last few months of the year are a prime time to roll out deals for customers craving a good sale. Are you using your social networks to make the most of online shopping? An online store is only part of a winning equation. Your fans may not be checking your website regularly, so it’s important to drive traffic there through social media. Loyal followers make for strong brand advocates. If fans love a deal they see on Twitter or on Facebook, they can easily share it with friends and family, too.
Who’s responsible for your social strategy this holiday season? Let the pros handle it so you can enjoy feasting with family and friends! The only downside? You won’t have any excuses for showing up to that potluck without a good dish!
Jolly Old St. Nick may be a luddite of sorts (as far as we know, he still employs an old-fashion sleigh and a generous dose of magic to get most of his work done) but that doesn’t mean he can’t teach you a thing or two about how to use social media. Here are some tips, straight from Santa’s Workshop, to help you out in the final stretch towards Christmas.
It Takes a (Christmas) Village
Santa doesn’t do it all on his own. He has an entire workshop of elves working full time to help him out. In the same way, it’s important to get everyone on your team thinking about the ways they can maximize your business’s presence on social networks. Customer service representatives can field incoming questions, while marketing associates can be on hand at events live-tweeting or uploading pictures to Instagram. As long as all efforts are connected to an overarching strategy led by a dedicated user, there’s no reason to fear too many cooks in the kitchen. Assign one person to be the dedicated user. They'll be responsible for filtering content and making sure the overall message is cohesive while the other elves work away.
It Doesn’t Pay to be Naughty
A good social media strategy is all about transparency, but when you’re being honest and open, it can be hard to conceal your flaws. In an age where your customers know more about you than ever before, it pays to be nice--not naughty. Throwing an epic tantrum online every time something doesn’t go your way is a sure ticket to getting coal in your stocking.
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, He Knows When You’re Awake
Okay, so that particular line has always struck us as more than a little bit creepy, but it does shine a light on an important aspect of your social strategy: monitoring. If you’ve built a strong online presence on your social networks throughout the year, don’t be surprised to see an uptick of traffic during the holiday season. That’s because more people are doing online shopping than ever before. Just take a look at this year’s blockbuster Cyber Monday sales. The holidays are an essential time to keep a closer eye on your social networks because customers expect you to answer questions about things like shipped packages and special deals. Ignoring questions on social media is a sure way to encourage customers to move on.
Keep an Open Ear
You can walk into any mall in America and find an attentive Santa carefully listening, poised to grant holiday wishes as best he can. Listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Do they wish you had special holiday hours so they can sneak in some holiday shopping? Are they hungry for end-of-the-year deals? Like Santa, you may not be able to fulfill every Christmas list, but by carefully listening to your customers, you’ll have a better idea of what they really want from you.
The biggest lesson of all? Keep things jolly. It’s the holiday season, after all. It’s a time of year to make sure your customers know you’re grateful for them, so be generous and create special coupons, in-store events and exclusive deals to give something back! Only Santa Claus can go around the world in one night and grant everyone’s wishes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to making the holiday season special for the people who support your business all year round.
Albert Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” We don’t know if Einstein ever envisioned a world of digital information dominated by social media, but he may as well have been talking about marketing in the era of Facebook and Twitter. If you’re not embracing all the marketing tools the web has to offer, you may be playing it too safe. If the idea of making mistakes has you shying away from social media, check out these four common pitfalls.
Trying to be Everywhere at Once
Are you on every social media platform imaginable? It’s a good idea to have a presence on multiple networks, but don’t spread yourself too thin by thinking that you have to be everywhere at once! Instead, think about your target demographic and then discover which platforms your target audience is using the most. This article from Nonprofit Quarterly offers a great breakdown of some statistics surrounding social media and the types of users that can be found on each network. If you know information about your target audience, such as age or income, you can zero in on the social channels that these users are most likely to be engaging through.
Jumping In Without a Plan
Just like any other aspect of your overall marketing plan, your social media strategy needs to follow a plan. Social media is an incredible dynamic tool. Different organizations and businesses will harness its power in the way that best suits their needs. Before you start publishing and engaging with fans, ask yourself, “What can I do through social media that I’m not already achieving through other marketing approaches?” Some of your goals might include growing awareness around your brand, providing round-the-clock customer service online, or boosting revenue from your online store during the holiday season. Check out this list of the 12 Most Attainable Goals on Social Media to get the ball rolling.
Being a Broadcaster
Many marketers accustomed to traditional forms of communication may easily slip into this common pitfall. The old dynamic of publishing as a one-way street doesn’t work with digital marketing, so look for opportunities to improve engagement whenever you can. Using social media is as much about creating a space for customers to talk about you (and to you) as it is about you broadcasting information them. As part of your social media plan, you might consider setting some ground rules around how much of your content constitutes broadcasting and how much of it is geared towards maximizing engagement.
Measuring Too Much or Too Little
We’re living in an era where many decisions are built on big data, and many social networks have built-in tools that can give you great insight into the habits of your fans. Learning that most of your Facebook followers are from out of state might make you change the way you approach your business. Monitoring the type of content that garners the most engagement might also shape the kind of information you publish and ultimately help you grow your online following. But getting too bogged down with numbers can be detrimental to your overall strategy. On the other hand, tracking and logging every “like” and “retweet” is unlikely to yield any gains. Focus on tracking the outcomes that are most closely linked to your overall marketing goals and you’ll find it easier to parse out useful data from the white noise.Are you a veteran when it comes to using social media to grow your business? Or are you just starting to dip your toes in the water? In either case, there is always something to learn! Share your own stories of pitfalls you’ve encountered below.
The gift-giving season is almost upon us and you know what that means-- it’s make or break time for a lot of businesses. If you don’t believe us, check out some statistics about holiday shopping from last year. Did you know that almost 20% of retail sales for the entire year happened during the holiday season? With a growing emphasis on online shopping, your business's digital presence is more important than ever. Are you prepared to come out of the holiday season a winner? Here are some tips to help you get there!
Create an Inclusive Calendar
With a slew of events, parties and holidays on the horizon, it’s a good idea to step back and get organized with a detailed holiday calendar. We’ve created a table with some important events here. It’s never a bad idea to include local events or holidays that are important to your community. When you’re trying to reach a broad audience, don’t forget the importance of being as inclusive as possible!
A holiday calendar can help you work backwards as you roll out special deals, gift guides, special in-store events, and more! Remember, it’s a highly competitive time of the year, so it pays to get an early start. Every business is vying for the attention of shoppers, so make sure you create periodic messaging that leads up to important shopping days like Black Friday.
Get Your Online Store Ready for Traffic
Are you as prepared online as you are at your physical location? Setting up your online store with updated pictures, offers and information about shipping during the holidays can help set you up for success. Online shoppers have the ability to easily compare competing businesses, so make sure that you highlight special deals wherever you can. Emphasize information that will make customers want to choose you every time.
Don’t forget to leverage the power of social media either. Use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to direct your followers to your online store. Use social media to feature gift baskets, customer reviews and other special items that will encourage customers to browse through your other online offerings. Before you start encouraging traffic, make sure all your links are updated, so that users can easily navigate your store.
Man the (Social) Deck
With increased traffic at your stores and online, there are bound to be more customers reaching out to you. Don’t be surprised when users use Facebook and Twitter to contact you with questions, complaints, rants, raves or friendly holiday greetings! Instead, make sure you have a good monitoring plan in place, with a smart dedicated user keeping an eye out for red flags. The more quickly you handle that disgruntled customer who just tweeted about you, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to salvage the situation before it spirals out of control.
Are you altering your social strategy for the holidays? With many Americans getting ready to do a big portion of their holiday shopping before Halloween, there’s no time like the present to get started!