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Social Media – Are You Really Engaged?

Everyone talks about social media engagement. They describe it in terms of metrics. How many people liked, shared, replied, or otherwise responded to a given post? It’s important to track these metrics, but the truth about social engagement, is right there in its name – engagement. You don’t get engaged to someone who treats you like a number. Here are some thoughts on social media engagement –

  • Many people parrot the idea that “social media is social.” That statement is very misleading. It makes companies shy away from social media as a critical tool in their communications program thinking it’s really for people taking pictures of their dinner, or their dog. But social media isn’t social. It’s personal, and personally is how products and services get sold. This is especially important as many potential customers live in remote areas of the world and social media provides them with a way to reach out and touch a brand’s representative in a very personal way.
  • Customers want to interact with the brands they value. A few customers may have sales people who cater to their particular needs, but for the most part they’re the lucky minority. Social media provides customers with a ready channel for interaction – questions, ideas, complaints, praise. And being there as a company in a responsive, meaningful manner has long-lasting effects! It’s not about chalking that question up to a metric. It’s about creating a happy, satisfied customer or interested consumer. Any interaction is an opportunity to solve a problem, demonstrate expertise, create trust, and become a preferred source. How you solve the problem is more important that the number of questions a post generates. Solve one problem well – and you’ll earn more.
  • How “engagement” is handled after its received is the key question. Yes, great posts tend to generate more interactions, but if no one with real knowledge and expertise responds to a question or comment for a couple days (or never), guess who will engage next time? No one. It’s amazing how many social programs end at collecting the respondents name and email, rather than making the reply even more exciting and satisfying than the post.
  • You have to romance your prospect before you get engaged. Expecting someone to see one good post and leap on your company’s bandwagon is unrealistic. Post regularly with interesting, challenging content that people actually want (we’re talking product, technology, delivery, service, solutions – not dogs. Well, sometimes dogs!). Reply, respond, and solve every interaction you’re fortunate enough to receive. Your followers will see those responses and come to learn that your social channels are great places to meet you and get their problems solved.
  • Don’t succumb to fear. Companies get so spooked about the necessary speed of interaction on social media, they pull back, over-analyze, over-approve and consequently, miss the interactive nature of engagement on social media. No company has ever approved or controlled all the questions and answers in a sales channel or support call. It’s more important to respond quickly than to be perfect.

Social media engagement is like your sales channel and call-in support center together, but faster, more cost effective at times, and more accessible to customers, prospects, and those who might someday be both. It’s a vast person-to-person interaction the likes of which we’ve never had. Yes, measure the heck out of it, but don’t overlook the actual opportunity in front of you. It’s time to get engaged.

Putting the Persistence in PR

 

People often ask us how Strategies, as a boutique agency, can get such impressive results in PR. You may be aware that we’re well known for positioning our clients and helping to create effective brand promises that resonate in the marketplace. Very often, understanding positioning makes all the difference in creating a brilliant PR pitch that’s irresistible to an editor or reporter. It certainly impacts the downloadcreation of news releases and white papers, letting members of the media know that you understand the market you’re in and how your technologies fit into it.

But once you’ve done these things – positioned brilliantly, created the informed, content-rich news release, offered the subject matter expert as a spokesperson – what happens next? What if the editor doesn’t respond?

This, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road, because this is where the secret to success is – persistence. No, you don’t become an annoyance – well, maybe just a little. If you’ve done your job, you have a great story for the editor or reporter or blogger that they need to know about. It’s their job to get your news – so you really are an important part of their job. They’re really busy – often seriously overburdened and understaffed. They don’t have time to dig your story out of the heap. You have to make sure that your story rises to the top.

You do that persistently, reminding your contacts of the value of the story you have to offer, being aware of what they’re looking for and showing them how your story will give them what they need. Base your approach to them on value (never on things like your ad budget!!). This is not “click it and forget it” PR. Over the years, Strategies has been hired and rehired because we “get results.” The willingness to go that extra mile – after mile – is one of the secrets to our success. Make it one of yours.

 

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Yes, Your Subject Matter Experts CAN Love Social Media!

Social-media-for-public-relations1Companies are constantly barraged my marketing professionals with the message that social media is social and even companies should not be pouncing on their followers, friends, and likes with nothing but sales messages. “Provide rich useful content,” they say. Yes, great idea. BUT, rich content within a company generally comes from subject matter experts (SMEs), who are sometimes as excited about social media as a trip to the dentist. On top of that, if there is an engineer or technology expert who is willing to represent the company and garner followers – what happens to the brand identity if that person builds a following and then leaves the company? It’s a puzzlement shared by most companies and organizations trying to get comfortable with how to interact on social media.

This is compounded by the fact that every social media platform has a different set of rules on how one can and must perform on their site. Every Facebook page must have a profile that owns it. Twitter simply has no way to track multiple individuals who post on a single account. LinkedIn is the most multi-user friendly, but even it can be intimidating.

So how do you, as an organization, make social media work? Until and unless social media becomes more company friendly, we suggest appointing a single point of social media management, or build a social media team. This can be within your organization or an outside resource. This central management monitors posting, so the flow of information is steady and well orchestrated. The central social media management can also help to reduce redundancy, emphasize important messages, and be sure that all areas/divisions/product lines of the company are being represented in content. This team should be well informed and understand social media thoroughly. It also helps if they have a grasp of marketing since this is not a job for an intern. It needs to be high level, strategic, and consistent.

Maybe you incentivize your SMEs to provide content to the social media team on a regular basis. Participating in the social media program may be an objective in their job description or the source of a bonus of some kind. In many cases, the SME will also receive credit – such as on a blog or a LinkedIn post which builds credibility as an industry thought leader. On tweets and some Facebook and Instagram posts, their names generally won’t be mentioned, but a single piece of interesting data can be spun into multiple posts. This not only serves to enrich your social media participation, it warms up your experts to the idea of social media without having to place huge pressure or time demands on them. We’ve noticed some SMEs become real limelight lovers in a short period of time.

Find good resources to serve as your social media management and do not overburden them with too many rules. Provide general guidelines, but to some degree, social media is spontaneous. It’s about listening and reacting. If your social media team has to have every comment approved and/or tweeted in triplicate, your social media program will bog down under the weight and your efforts will be futile.

Social media is here to stay. Every company needs to have a social media presence as much as they need a website. These guidelines give you a place to start.