This morning when you woke up, your first idea was: “I’ll get started with social media.” Good, now let the fun begin… What are the first steps you need to take if you want to use social media to communicate about your company effectively and efficiently?
Step 1: Make a plan
“Doing something” with social media isn’t enough. First you have to know exactly what you want to achieve, and be consistent with your choices. You may use social media activities for recruitment or place more emphasis on B2B sales. You need to make a choice for your company: how can social media help you most? Write down your objectives as clearly as possible. You need to do your homework, because have a look at Step 2 ..
Step 2: Talk to your boss
It’s essential that you company’s managers join in, or at least approve, your social media plan before you can get started properly. Only then will social media be fully accepted positively, allowing it to become part of your company’s culture. Just like with other media, it’s important that clear agreements are made with the company’s management about how, who and what. Demonstrate how and why social media can benefit your company. Explain how you see the integration of social media fitting in with the existing communication plan, preferably in as concrete a way as possible. Make it clear that social media is not free: it will take time to develop the network, create content and respond to other people’s relevant discussions. Be honest about this.
Step 3: Talk to your colleagues
Communicating via social media – as the name suggests – is not something that you can do on your own. Without your colleagues’ cooperation, your efforts will die a quick and silent death. You need to at least keep them informed of what you are blogging about, and what is happening on your Facebook page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn discussion forum. They will then feel more involved, and so will be more likely to publicise your activities via their own channels. Don’t forget that most of your colleagues are already using social media for their own purposes, and perhaps know some of the services better than you. They are the leading ambassadors for your company – they help take care of word-of-mouth advertising.
Some of your colleagues might even want to share their specialist experience and expertise on discussion forums, and so provide all sorts of useful tips. Draw up a list of colleagues who can help you, and what their roles could be.
Step 4: Start to listen
As well as getting the green light from your management team and some enthusiastic colleagues, you also need to have a good idea where you already stand. It’s not just your company’s existing presence on social media sites that needs researching; you also need to check out your competitors, possible business partners, your most important products or services, and the name of your CEO. So you need to focus not just on the number of updates, but also the context and so-called sentiment of these updates. Which discussions do you appear in most? What tone do people use to speak about your company? The results of this evaluation will also help you in the next step. Free and commercial monitoring services are available to help you gather this information. Free tools can give you a first impression of how a tool works, but it’s best to use a professional service for collecting exact details. You could work with monitoring specialists such as Radian6 from salesforce.com, Alterian or Engagor.
Step 5: Choose a channel
You can use the previous steps to help you decide what social media is most suitable for your company. Make this choice depending on your objectives, colleagues’ suggestions, results from your monitoring research and often also the sector that your company is active in. In many cases there is not just one, but several channels that can be useful for your company. As we’ve already written elsewhere on this blog: it probably won’t work if you only use Twitter. But please note: don’t be too quick to use all the channels that might seem relevant. In other words: make sure it all stays manageable.