Social media #1 - Developing the strategy
With more than 500 million tweets sent each day around the world and 300 million LinkedIn users, it's no wonder businesses use these communication platforms. They do it to meet a variety of objectives; developing their brand and its awareness, improving customer service, showing they are subject matter experts in their field and increasing sales. ‘Best in class’ users are being even more innovative, using social media in areas such as market research to test new product ideas and to improve internal communications and staff morale.
However recent research shows that, in reality, it’s rare for businesses to get a return from their social media activities. Indeed a survey of 1,700 companies by the Harvard Business School showed that only 12% feel they are using social media effectively. A total of 43% of businesses surveyed said they are ineffective at using social media and another 45% felt they are ‘getting there’.
Understanding the problem
Although there is a great amount of information available on how to build and implement a social media strategy, the pitfalls of companies who try and fail are all too common:
Not being preparedFailing to understand social media platforms and their purpose, having poorly defined objectives for their strategy or not studying what ‘best in class’ users are doing.
Poor understanding of the target audienceLacking an appreciation of the kind of users they wish to attract and the reasons their followers are using social media.
Lack of cohesive recruitment and content strategyNot having a coordinated approach and plan covering who will be recruited to the community and when, alongside the content that will be shared.
Being impatientGiving up too soon. Social media involves building participation and observing what works; all too often companies don’t commit for long enough to see the results.
Lack of measurementStruggling to link social media investment back to the bottom line.
How do we solve it?
So, how can an organisation develop a successful social media strategy that avoids these pitfalls? The question was tackled by Larry Webber in his book ‘Marketing to the Social Web’. Webber identifies a series of steps that need to be carried out thoroughly for success to follow:
ObserveStart to understand social media and the blogosphere.
Recruit and listenThink about who to communicate with and what kind of community this implies.
Evaluate PlatformsWhat are the best social media platforms to use?
EngageDevelop content and get people talking.
MeasureHow to measure progress and success?
PromoteHow to further promote our community and materials?
ImproveHow to learn from experiences and improve going forward?
Sysdoc has been exploring this framework to develop our Social Media strategy. In the forthcoming blogs in this series we will discuss our experiences and look forward to receiving your comments and ideas.