Social media has proved its usefulness in engaging clients and growing the influence of the organisation. The new online media ecosystem makes sharing content easy and reduces the barriers to entry. It means that an organisation’s key messages can reach a wider audience than ever before. It is the most important component in reducing reliance on traditional methods of feeding the sales funnel.
That’s it. Period. Full stop. Ticked that box. Moving along to producing the greatest social media presence in the history of this online and connected world.
As John Wayne used to say “whoa there hoss”. We need to be wary of sweeping statements like the one above. There are a couple of ‘IFS’ (and they’re BIG ifs) that should be inserted into any enthusiastic endorsement of the many social media channels that are available.
Let’s go through these ‘ifs’ one at a time.
1. Social media, such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ have proved their usefulness. IF your activity is part of a targeted communications strategy that takes into account audience demographics and market segmentation, and is aligned to the strategy of the organisation. The use of social media is NOT a panacea, nor should it be a repeat of the dot com bubble of the 90’s.
We should have learned our Internet lesson from that era. Social platforms are not shop windows. The entire environment thrives on interaction. Unless there is a good, persuasive reason behind engaging with target audiences through social media, and you’re going to devote the internal resource, who has the time and energy, don’t do it. Unless you can find a trusted partner who can help out.
2. Social media will allow an organisation to engage in a meaningful way with clients. Yes it will, IF the content is relevant and adds value. Simply posting external content to your Facebook page, LinkedIn Group or Blog is a recipe for disaster. A good guideline – 60% of your content needs to be original and your organisation needs to respond to comments on that content.
Ongoing moderation and quick response is key. If you want your social media presence to deliver, you need to be 100% certain that your organisation has the resource dedicated to quick responses. Alternatively find a supplier who will manage this for you.
3. “My organisation will grow its footprint because people are going to share content.” No they’re not, at least not automatically. The social media ecosystem is not a sausage maker. You cannot simply insert raw ingredients in one end and expect engagement and influence to come out of the other end.
Your messages will only be shared IF you have the capacity to develop engaging content and match it to the needs of your target audience. This is only going to happen IF you have something interesting to say or IF you are regarded as an expert. Just posting the same boilerplate-driven success stories, or the same template-based product reviews again and again is not going to promote the sharing of content. You need to dedicate resource to developing quality content which is presented in an engaging way.
Sharing is an endorsement of your content. No varied and engaging content = limited sharing. An organisation needs to harness a resource that can provide creative ideas and translate those ideas into engaging content, including copy and images. You’ll need to be tracking trends and analyzing your marketplace. Social media rewards well-thought-out engagement.
4. These channels have proved useful in engaging clients. Absolutely correct, IF that engagement adds value to those visiting the site. Engagement is a function of many components: design, copy and the correct messaging.
5. Engagement will grow the influence of the organisation. IF the correct content is provided and can easily be shared between stakeholders and interested parties. Influence cannot grow in an ecosystem that does not have variety. In order for a social media strategy to deliver a return on investment, the organisation must ensure that it makes use of the correct social media real estate.
Facebook is different from LinkedIn, which is different from Pinterest, which is different from YouTube, which is different from Scoopit, which is different from Instagram, which is different from Google+, which is different from Twitter. You get the idea.
6. The new social media ecosystem makes sharing content easy.
Yes it does, but the true value is onward sharing of that content, not exclusively in the organisation posting to their blog or any of the other shared real estate out there.
IF the organisation takes the time and devotes the resources required to make proper use of social media and develops excellent content, then the journey of engagement has a great starting point. Then gaining the hard yards starts. The effectiveness of social media activity depends on regular measurement and the refining of the channel and its content. Measure and refine, measure and refine. Add content and do away with content that isn’t working. And measure again. buy youtube shares