For many small business owners, the first hurdle to overcome is finding the time to engage via social media. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the perfect social media workflow, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop a solution that’s perfect for your business. Follow these four steps for a smooth start to your social media campaigns:
Step 1: Confirm Your Processes
In our first post we discussed the importance of coming up with a plan for your social media marketing campaigns. Now is the time to take another look at your plan to be sure you didn’t forget any critical details. Be sure you have answers to these questions (at minimum):
- Who will monitor social media conversations concerning your company?
- What are the policies in place for what is acceptable for social media posts?
- How will you handle misinformation or mistakes? (Tip: Mistakes are less important than how your company handles them. Prompt responses will leave a good impression.)
- What are the policies in place for dealing with legitimate complaints?
- What about compliments?
- Whose responsibility will it be to compile the data from your social networks and report back on your goals?
To make it easier for everyone to be on the same page, set up a flowchart or some other visual depiction of how you will handle responses. This community management flowchart created by David Armano shows various process flows based on user sentiment in the conversation. An organized strategy ensures both efficiency and a consistent response from the people handling social media engagement.
For acceptable social media use policies, you don’t need to get complicated. A list of common sense guidelines, such as this social media policy from Best Buy, can work well to ensure that employees are informed about what is allowed, what isn’t, and the consequences for breaching company policy.
Step 2: Integrate and Centralize
Even if you are starting with our recommendation of 2 or 3 social media channels, it can quickly become tedious having to log in and out of each one separately to make your posts. A social media management platform such as HootSuite or Viralheat can drastically cut down on the time you spend switching back and forth.
By adding your company’s social media accounts to one platform, you get a more holistic view of how well you are engaging with your audience. Since many of these platforms also come with analytics, you can even pull together basic reports quickly and easily.
If you intend to focus on content curation, you can apply the same concept to finding interesting articles and resources to share with your audience. You probably have various online resources and websites that you use to stay informed and current on topics relevant to your business.
Use a feed reader or press aggregator to pool all of these sites into one centralized location. Feed readers such as Google Reader will even allow you to search out new feeds based on your topics of interest, letting you uncover new sources you may not have realized existed.
Scanning a list of headlines and summaries for the most interesting articles takes much less time than surfing from website to website in search of engaging content. If your social media platform has posting capabilities integrated with your browser, publishing interesting links for your audience will take only a few clicks at most.
When it comes to content production, you can save time by thinking of ways to repurpose content you already have on hand. To be clear, repurposing does not mean serving up the same content again and again – that quickly gets boring and you will lose your audience.
Rather, you should think of different angles and ways to create new content around data and resources that you already have. For example, a company that specializes in skincare products could create a blog post about winter skincare. The same research that goes into this blog post could be used to extract salient data points for use in an infographic depicting the most common skin problems in winter. And the same research could be also be used to inform a podcast or video review about specific products designed to treat winter skin ailments.
Step 3: Incorporate Organically
Most people have a typical routine that they follow during the course of the business day. Add social media to your routine tasks such as checking email and responding to phone messages. By thinking of social media as a conversation and grouping it with tasks that are similar, you will be more productive.
When there are multiple people responsible for social media, try to create a flexible schedule that allows for staggered social media engagement. This ensures that someone is always monitoring online conversations around your brand, and that someone “owns” the social media channel throughout the day.
Employee contributions through official channels such as blog posts, whitepapers and eBooks can provide a boost to social engagement while still providing a measure of management control. The key to safely engaging this way is to be sure that all content is reviewed by management before it is posted publically.
Step 4: Be Flexible
Social media moves quickly, so flexibility is essential to maximize your engagement. Timely responses to questions, prompt posting of new and interesting content, and linking to new and potentially viral content may require that you step outside of your set scheduling from time to time. Don’t be afraid to do this if the information or conversation is relevant and timely.
It is just as important to keep in mind that you are speaking with real people. Politeness can go a long way to building fans:
- Thank people for their questions and set a timeline for resolution.
- Ensure prompt customer service and tech support follow-up for legitimate complaints.
- Let your followers know when you need to end the conversation for the moment.
You don’t need to be too detailed. It can be as simple as posting: “Thanks for all the great questions. I’m going to take this back to the team and get you some answers in the next week.” Letting people know that they’ve been heard, and then following up as promised will help you to gain a loyal following.
Our next social media marketing post will focus on building your audience, and how to ensure that the interactions you have through your social media channels put your company in the best light possible.
Do you still have questions about social media marketing integration? Our team of experts is always ready to assist. Get in touch with us, and we’ll help you to create a workable plan to reach your social media marketing goals.
“Community Management Scenario Map | Flickr – Photo Sharing!”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7855449@N02/5042953763/in/photostream/lightbox/.
“BBY – Best Buy Social Media Policy – Best Buy: Unboxed.” http://forums.bestbuy.com/t5/Welcome-News/Best-Buy-Social-Media-Policy/td-p/20492.