“We enjoy having interns at Bankers Advocate. They bring a fresh perspective to how we do things. Hannah Pace is a senior at UCF and wrote this great article for us. Thank you Hannah, Chris”
If “everyone is doing it” is your strategy for entering the social media realm, beware. From a business point of view, it is crucial to think about how an online presence will help you reach your goals. Yes, businesses that choose to not adapt to this new culture are at an increasing disadvantage, but entering into the online world without a defined strategy won’t take you far. The following steps will help you establish an effective presence in the social media world.
1. Do an Environmental Scan
It is important to begin by researching and analyzing what other companies are doing. For example, do a simple online search for brands in your field. How is their profile set up? How do they interact with their audience? How often do they post? What topics do they post on? How have they established relationships with other organizations? Assess what you do and don’t like. This process will prevent challenges and give clear direction.
2. Establish Objectives
Now that you posses a clearer vision, specific objectives must be made to keep you on track. These will allow you to see your progress. Proper planning is the key to social media integration. Christopher Barger outlined the following objectives for General Motors’ entrance into the social media world:
• Become more responsive to people/consumer audiences
• Incorporate audience/consumer feedback into your organization more quickly and effectively than has happened traditionally
• Make your brand a little more “human” to the outside world, and show people the smarts, personality and passion of the people behind your logo
• Increase awareness of the strength of your current product lineup, and provide perspective/accurate information about your company
3. Appoint a Social Media Head
Once accounts are created and objectives are identified, who will maintain them? A specific person or department, depending on company size and culture, needs to be given ownership of social media. If hiring a consultant is out of the budget, be sure to first understand your employees’ level of knowledge and interest. Offer training if needed. There are a myriad of interactive, online programs as short as 45 minutes to give employees the basics on engaging in social media.
A few tips to remember as you are establishing your presence in the social media realm:
One step at a time
You’re building a structure brick by brick, not hanging a sign on a door. Creating the accounts and waiting for people to come won’t work. To gain followers, stay active. Consistently post relevant pieces of information and news. Update from once a day, to once a week. Also, cross promote with your web site, publications and any other social media accounts.
A Two-Way Street
Social media is not one-way form of communication. In order to develop a personal persona, check in with your audience by asking for feedback and responding to questions and comments. This builds a relationship and keeps them checking back. Social media is only a tool to allow you to make connections in an easier way. Once the connection is made, it ‘s up to you to build the relationship.