Do you want to get more people inside your organization to support your social media activities?
If so, you're not alone. Small businesses to Fortune 500 companies find themselves facing these challenges.
In this article, I'll show you how to create an internal social media structure that will help you develop an effective long-term social media presence.
#1: Define the End Goal
First, identify how and why social media will be used to meet specific business and brand goals.
For example, a business goal is to increase revenue by 10%, whereas a brand goal is to create deeper relationships with your existing clients.
Clearly define realistic, concrete and measurable goals to give your team objectives to pursue.
#2: Create a Social Media Task Force
Depending on your company's size, one person or a group of people will lead your social media efforts. Assign the following roles to group members:
- Lead strategist: Responsible for long-term strategic vision and ensuring day-to-day initiatives are mapped back to specific goals.
- Content manager: Leads all content strategy and development across social. This role often extends into website and other digital properties.
- Community manager: Publishes content across all social media channels; spurs conversations with existing and prospective customers, influencers and media.
- Analyst: Measures the success of social media by benchmarking key performance indicators (KPI) against business and brand goals.
- Social media coordinator: Facilitates communication by planning monthly meetings and staff emails. This individual may also be a resource from the core team (versus creating a new role).
Kathleen Ngo, social media specialist at Sony Electronics, says:
“At Sony, we recognize the impact social can have in terms of driving brand awareness and even conversion. Having a team devoted to social allows us to be nimble and responsive. We're able to implement real-time marketing efforts to supplement our larger brand campaigns, as well as to understand the voice of the customer and pass valuable feedback along to our product teams. We can go beyond content creation and focus on other verticals, including events/sponsorships and influencer relations.”
All of these individuals work closely together to collaborate on content approaches that appeal to your target audience(s) and decide how to execute campaigns and find the most valuable and relevant tools your brand will use.
#3: Develop a Holistic Social Media Strategy
Once the team is assembled, strategists lead and work with all team members to lay the groundwork for your social presence through a holistic social media strategy. The team answers questions such as:
- What do you want to achieve by being present across social media? What's the goal?
- What are your target audience segments? Are there multiple segments—for example, media versus consumer? Based on this, across which social networks should the brand be present? What should each channel do? What should it not do?
- How does brand voice translate across social channels? What types of words and tone best describe your brand? What types of words do not?
- Using social media monitoring, competitive insights and focus groups, what is/are your target audience(s) interested in learning? Based on these insights, what's your brand's content strategy?
- How often should content be proactively published across each channel?
- Which tools can be used to streamline publishing, monitoring and measurement?
- How do social media efforts tie into your larger digital ecosystem? How can your team support and/or leverage other groups working in digital, such as your brand website, one-off campaigns, SEO, SEM and display advertising initiatives? How often should you meet and communicate?
The team will develop company-wide social media guidelines, which are applicable to both the social media task force and employees. These rules are shared and approved by senior leadership, and made public to the company through a staff email and on the company intranet to minimize risk of how your brand is represented across social media channels.
This strategy is referred to during each team meeting to ensure all individuals are collectively working toward the same goals.
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#4: Consistency Is Key
To ensure content is consistently developed, published, tracked and analyzed, hold weekly one-hour social planning meetings where each resource spends 10 minutes to update team members on what he or she has recently learned.
Devote the meeting's last 20 minutes to brainstorming. One-half of the month's meetings focus on strategy to ensure all parties are on the same path toward the brand's long-term social media footprint. The other two meetings focus on content ideation to identify new ways to deliver content through creative assets, contests, etc.
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#5: Use Tools to Your Advantage
Whether you do or don't have a budget, various tools are available to effectively support content publishing, tracking and optimization:
- Publishing: HootSuite simplifies content publishing and helps you track links. Use this tool to schedule content in advance, but keep in mind the importance of proactively checking social profiles daily to respond to messages. Be cautious of pre-scheduled content during current events such as natural disasters, and be sensitive to the local, regional and/or national community during difficult times.
- Measurement: Use Wildfire App's monitoring tool to benchmark against competitors and gauge social community growth over time.
- Workflow and publishing: For more complex organizations with longer-cycle approval processes, Kapost helps create workflow streams and assigns specific roles such as “final approver” to various individuals.
- Social media listening: NetBase provides tracking of specific keywords including branded, competitive and topical terms (to gauge general chatter around set topics) across digital. NetBase supports content strategy development to ensure materials created for social channels align with what the target audience is interested in learning.
- Measurement and competitive benchmarking: Plug in your social channels against competitors through SocialBakers to get a sense of how you stack up in the industry. You can discover which specific campaigns, individuals and content perform best.
#6: The Team Should Be “Social”
Create awareness of your brand's social presence to support the growth of your community and engagement rate online, and create appreciation among peers for how you manage your company's digital brand presence.
Tips for getting your company involved in your social media presence:
Whether you're a small or large organization, the social media task force is critical to ensure content is published from a consistent voice on a regular basis. However, opening up the conversation to other employees creates a new platform and way of collecting points of view and content sources to support the content manager.
Set up an email alias specific to social media content submissions, curated by the content manager, to provide new content opportunities and fresh thinking on a regular basis.
Remind team members of their ability to contribute through company meetings and staff emails to energize and enable creativity.
- Initially, send out a staff email that features the social media team and captures what the group will be doing across digital to illuminate brand channels.
- Emphasize that company involvement is an important part of your brand presence. While you'll be sending out notes periodically to facilitate brainstorming, you are interested in learning about who would like to participate in the brand's social presence, which requires minimal involvement.
- Create a Google document to send out in this email and encourage employees to log their name in this document, with their favorite part of social media (some might be more interested in brainstorming; others have a soft spot for analytics).
- Work with these individuals and the social media task force to support day-to-day and campaign-related activities. Make participation easy for them. Ask simple questions and provide easy ways to respond.
Send out monthly staff emails with top-performing content or announcements you would like employees to propagate. If you request sharing of specific content across employee social media channels, draft 1-2 sample posts for easy copy and paste.
Add brand social media channels to your company signature with hyperlinked URLs, encouraging other employees to do so. If you are a part of a larger organization, altering the official signature may require coordination with HR.
Regardless of where social media sits within your company, craft simple-to-digest emails to send off to executives and senior leadership. This keeps them in the know about what is happening across social.
Depending on your goals and target audiences, consider training senior leaders about how they can personally use social media as a voice for the brand and to achieve specific objectives. Keep their busy schedules in mind and provide solutions for how they can consistently be active; perhaps with the support of an assistant, for example.
A few more thoughts…
Creating a social media account takes seconds, but maintaining a presence is a long-term commitment. When you set up an account and fail to consistently publish fresh content and points of view, your brand is hurt.
This is particularly true when key audience segments and media follow the account. From the start, create an internal plan to set up your company for long-term social media success.
What do you think? Do you have a social media plan in place? What would you add to this list? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
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