Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Social Media – 10 Things to Consider Before you Begin

By Mhairi Petrovic on Dec 28 2009 • Filed under Outsmarting Social Media

In the last blog post I introduced you to social media and talked about some of the benefits and pitfalls of using these tools. Today I want to hone in on 10 considerations that you should take into account before embarking on your social media adventure.

1. Research – Like every good marketing effort, research is important. Social media “listening” is often the best way to get a feel for social media. It is an important first step in checking out the social media landscape for your business. Before setting up your presence in any of these forums, take time to find industry blogs, track down peers and industry luminaries in these forums and locate and follow your competition online in order to listen to what is being said about your industry. Use tools like Google Alerts to listen for mentions of you, your company or your industry. By listening effectively you will get a good feel for what is appropriate social media behaviour and what is not.

2. Strategy – Social Media is simply another tool in your marketing toolbox. Your social media efforts will be most effective when they complement and reflect the overall strategy of your company and integrate to your marketing plan. Before adopting social media techniques consider and document the strategic goals you are aiming to achieve so that you can measure effectiveness and make sure your efforts are not in vain.

3. Audience – Consider who your audience is: which social networks are they using and where are they most likely to hang out online? If you are selling walkers to octogenarians then social networks might not be the best forum or if your product is aimed at teenagers then Twitter won’t be the right tool to use. Knowing your audience and their online habits will help you determine which tools to use to best reach them and how to communicate in a way that resonates with them.

4. Your offering and brand – Another factor that will help focus your social media efforts on the right tools is your brand. Ask yourself which tools are most appropriate to your brand and company image. If your organization is highly professional, then LinkedIn might be the best tool to use. If your offering is very visual then Flickr or YouTube might be the best online hub to showcase your offering. It is very important that your presence is branded in the same way across all forums i.e. upload and use your logo so that your prospects recognize you across all touch points and always make sure that employees know what is appropriate online behaviour when representing your organization in these forums.

5. Resources – social media requires time and commitment. Before you start you should consider the resources you have at hand and your core competencies. If you have people in your organization who love to write then a blog might be a great foundation to build your social media presence but if speaking is among your fortes then a podcast or video blog might be more appropriate. Never make the mistake of handing off your social media responsibilities to the youngsters in your organization because you think they know more about these tools than you (unless you know that this person will have the wherewithal to represent your brand professionally and appropriately in these forums). Always schedule appropriate time for social media and if you don’t have the resources on hand, consider working with a reputable social media firm to help you meet your online objectives.

6. Content – success in social media is closely correlated to the content you post or provide. Again, take time to consider and make sure that the content you provide is interesting and that it adds value for your audience, telling them something they don’t already know. Determine up front what your core topics will be and stick to these subjects (to reinforce your brand). Remember that it is not all about you: if you find an interesting blog post on another site that you think would be of interest to your audience, link to it – not only will your audience appreciate it but you will build a connection with the originator.

7. Community – this is “social” media and to be most effective in these forums you should connect with people who are already in your network and form new connections in a targeted way. Focus on building community with peers in your industry and build your following based on the types of people / organizations in your company’s target audience and geography. The more social you are the more effective your presence will be.

8. Credibility – your social media presence should be true to life. Always portray yourself and your company in their true light and never fabricate. If you do there’s a good chance you will get caught out in the public forum and that will be embarrassing and damaging. Be up front, honest and professional and make sure that each interaction is representative of your company brand. Never spout off in the heat of the moment!

9. Patience – using social media to build business will not bring instantaneous results: remember this and be patient. Like any other marketing activity, building a presence in these forums takes time and effort. The worst thing you can do is to lose interest and abandon your social media efforts. A dead blog or Twitter presence can be extremely damaging to an organization so before you start make sure you put things in perspective: you are in this for the long haul and if you are not committed to this up front, you might be better of focusing your marketing efforts elsewhere.

10. Measuring your success – in #2 I referred to the fact that social media efforts should be in line with your corporate goals. Determine what these goals are and put in place methods to measure them. That way you will know if your efforts are working.

Social media can be a great tool to build your business online but if you don’t know what you are doing you can end up damaging your reputation or company brand long term. If you take these 10 considerations into account before building your social media presence or campaigns the likelihood of success will be far higher than if you just jump on the bandwagon without due consideration.

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