This post is by Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
As social media continue to mature, marketers and business executives who have stayed on the sidelines in hopes of safer options are feeling pressured to jump into the pool. The challenge becomes how to do so effectively without drowning in a public relations crisis.
First, survey the pool to get a sense of where your potential community members are and what they expect from you.
Then, dip your toe in the social media waters by selecting one major platform as a starting point. To help you decide which network, here are the pros and cons of the top five social media options.
To ensure your social media initiative succeeds, here are five must-haves, regardless of selection.
- Brand monitoring. In today’s 24/7 news cycle, you must constantly check what’s being said about your firm, products and brands. To this end, you must have a crisis-management plan in place, ready to roll out if the need arises. It’s like hiring a lifeguard for your pool.
- Social media guidelines. Ensure everyone in your organization understands what he or she can and can’t do as a representative of your firm with a set of social media guidelines. Even highly regulated pharmaceutical organizations, such Roche Holding, have them. Like most public swimming pools, you should post your social media guidelines before anyone goes swimming.
- Commitment. With social media, you must show up regularly and participate. Social media interaction requires real people representing your firm with a human voice. It must be integrated into an employee’s job, not something that gets done when the person has time. To this end, it’s a good idea to have a social media contingency plan.
- Content strategy. Because social media feed on fresh content, it’s critical to have a continuous supply of information that goes beyond promotion. To accomplish this, use an editorial calendar to ensure you have a constant flow of content.
- Marketing support. Like any other business initiative, you must let prospects, customers and the public know about your social media presence. Use existing communications to market your social media. This includes your website, e-mail newsletters, offline communications such as fliers and direct mail, in-store signage and one-to-one customer interaction such as bills and customer-service notices.
As you prepare to take your first swim in the social media pool, bear in mind that to make your initiative successful, you must have goals, strategies and metrics that are in line with your overall business objectives as well as resources to accomplish them.
Based on your experience, do you have suggestions that you would add for executives preparing to jump into social media?