The secret to brand relevance isn’t a Cracker Jack prize, Twitter account, or Facebook Fan page. If you don’t have anything to say, you’re not worth listening to. Social Media is a valuable tool when it’s used as a relevant and meaningful contribution; when your company’s web chatter is driven by mere advertising and self-promotion, your response will be as shallow as your efforts.
A social media strategy predicated on friending, following, commenting, RT-ing, and #TrendingTopics isn’t all that far off from the sex tape track to fame. Sure, it worked for Paris, but if your values and core purpose are deeper than a designer puppy tote, you’re going to need a more authentic strategy.
Just like your website, social media ROI depends on quality, not quantity. The keywords that direct the most traffic to your site aren’t always the keywords that result in the highest number of page views or the longest amount of time on the site. It doesn’t matter how many people view your page every day, it matters how many of the right people view it. Quantity is a by-product of a quality-driven strategy.
Key concepts to maximize your social media investment:
-Relevant Information: Make sure you’re genuinely communicating your relevant brand. Are you sharing information that contributes to the lives of your ideal customer? Does all of the information you’re sharing match your brand? Are you communicating in a tone and style that reflects the brand? Do your updates reflect your values, your niche, and your purpose?
-Authentic Ideas: Make sure you’re relying on your own hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and expertise. Over-utilized @’s and #’s make it pretty clear who has something to say and who’s trying to mooch off the social forces of others. Real people- real, intelligent, sophisticated people will be reading your posts. If you post something shallow and moochy, you’re probably going to be getting some grimaces on the other end. Grimaces are bad for social media ROI.
-No Pitches: Make sure your social media outlets are brand touch points rather than advertisements or sales pitches. Social media is about community, it’s a platform for sharing, and sales pitches are selfish. If you’re pitching, angling, and positioning rather than contributing, you’re not going to be welcome in the sand box for very long.
-Guiding Values: Make sure you have a plan for handling offensive comments and posts. If profanities wouldn’t be tolerated in your boardroom or at your trade show booth, you don’t have to tolerate them in the content generated by viewers, fans, subscribers, or visitors. Use your brand values and guiding philosophies to develop a personal strategy for what to tolerate, what not to tolerate, and what to do about it. Your strategy is up to you, but it’s important for your plan to be consistent and your response to be swift.
-Your Brand Style: Make sure your strategy is tailored specifically for your brand. What works for the office next door won’t necessarily work for you. You can’t out-tweet the New York Times. Keep your tone, your content, and the volume of your activity in perspective.
-Monitor Your Presence: Take the time to brainstorm the most likely problems that your social media strategy may encounter and the steps you can take to prevent these dilemmas. If the situation warrants, develop emergency response plans. What will you do to reduce the risk that the account will be hacked? How closely will you monitor spoof accounts? Is it likely that a problem will arise if the company tweeter has his or her blackberry linked to the company twitter and the phone is stolen?
– Quality Counts: The actual number of people who subscribe to your channel or fan you on Facebook isn’t really an indicator of your effectiveness in a given medium. Remember that having 10,000 fans on Facebook doesn’t mean 10,000 people see your updates every day. Your Weekly Facebook Page Update, your Bit.ly stats, and your video views are a far better judge of your ROI than your fan count.
-Netiquette Matters: Make sure you know the rules. While the topic has been heavily and frequently debated around the BlackDog lab, there are rules of decorum and etiquette to social media interactions- it isn’t a wholly lawless frontier. If you’re not sure of the rules: get a book on the topic, talk with people who are more familiar with community in question, read relevant blogs, and play in the space provided until you’re clear on the accepted rules of conduct.
Here are a few social media resources we recommend:
“YouTube For Business” by Michael Miller
“The Twitter Book” by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein