10 Social Media Tips that Create Big Wins for Clients
People often ask me how my company, LiveWorld, helps the world’s biggest brands maximize the results of social. Their daunting task can involve managing hundreds of social pages with hundreds of thousands of comments in dozens of languages. But the truth is, what we do at that gigantic scale is governed by the same principles of social media that I recommend for individuals and for smaller companies.
Here’s a cheat sheet of some of our favorite social media tips to help our clients manage thriving social programs.
1. Develop what we call a “socialized” view of the brand that defines how customers will experience your brand through dialogue and relationships in social media. To get there, imagine your brand as being in a relationship with your target audience—are you a confidante? A funny friend? A favorite teacher? How do you relate to your customer and what value do you bring to the relationship?
2. Set goals with smart key performance indicators (KPIs). Setting goals upfront allows you to create strategy that’s flexible but doesn’t lose sight of your business objectives. Are you looking to acquire customers? Make sales? Build reputation? Improve service or support? Gather insight? Decide upfront, create metrics to match, and then develop a plan that never loses site of those metrics.
3. Develop a content programming plan that makes promoting conversation among customers, not broadcasting brand messaging, the top priority. Stimulate conversation about what’s most important to customers by identifying linkages—interests your target customers share and want to discuss.
For example, one of our clients, the pharmaceutical company Zoetis, has a Facebook page called EQ Stable for customers of its horse-related products. While there’s lots of discussion about how to care for horses, there are also brand-initiated conversations about trail riding, riding lessons, and upcoming events of interest to horse owners.
4. When posting, use a customer-centric topic mix – 40% social, 40% category, 20% brand/products. That conversational mix really does create more engagement and in turn more reach and impact. This is particularly true on Facebook, where the relationships are primarily social in nature and the site’s algorithms favor those posts that promote conversation and sharing.
More people will see your product message is only 20% of your messages than if 80% of your messages are product messages. On Twitter, we’ve seen brands have success with streams that are more product-oriented. As a general rule of thumb, start with a topic mix that’s designed to engage by talking about more than just the product.
5. Put a social crisis management plan in place before the crises happen. The plan should establish a clear chain of command and provide a timeframe for response. Most important, “planning” for a crisis will save you from the typical mistake made by brands—overreacting due to panic and denying or trying to hide the controversial issue, and then finding you’ve just inflamed your critics.
6. Adding on to #6, never try to suppress controversy by ignoring, dismissing, controlling, or deleting flashpoints. Embrace critique openly. Start the conversation by letting them know you’re listening and will respond meaningfully to their concerns.
7. Respond to customers personally, using quality human moderators, not algorithms or automated responses. People come to social media spaces to interact on a personal level. If you can’t provide them with a human response, you’re playing in the wrong medium.
8. Fine tune your content. Short posts tend to perform better. Asking questions spurs dialogue, and particularly if those questions are inserted at the end, not the beginning, of a post. Evaluate performance both quantitatively and qualitatively and constantly adjust your content based on your findings. Paying consistent attention to the little stuff can make a big difference.
9. Find the balance between readily interacting with customers and dominating the conversation, which can effectively squeeze the customers’ voice from the page. Constantly seek out ways to highlight customers in your posts, and to throw the conversational ball into their court. Introduce your customers to each other in your social space and look for ways to create value for them from these new relationships.
10. This final tactic is the hardest, but potentially the most impactful: View your customers as partners, not passive targets, as you develop your social presence. If you can create an environment where customers feel safe and inspired to share their stories and in doing so redefine the experience of your brand, rather than have your marketing define it for them, the relationships and insights you gain from that conversation will completely transform your business.
Social media a long-term game, and it requires a real investment of time, focus, and yes, money. But social media users who have a great experience will tell an average of 42 people about it, according to the 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer. Meanwhile, across all customers (not just social media) the average number of people who spread the word on a positive experience is only 15, underlining how much social boosts word of mouth. Finally, every person who has a negative experience in social media will tell 53 others, on average.
So ask yourself, which kind of word of mouth do you want and what’s it worth to you and your business?