The idea of social media influencing buyers and its potential business benefits is finally past the tipping point.
That said, I meet quite a few company leaders who just don’t know where to go or what to do after establishing their social presence. According to a survey by Digital Brand Expressions, although 78 percent of client companies said they use social media, just 41 percent said they have a social media strategic plan in place.
Let’s take a look at five simple steps to put you on the right path to building an effective social strategy for your business:
1. Create written goals and priorities for your social presence.
- Writing down goals makes them real and causes employees to take them more seriously. It also establishes an orientation point for new employees.
- Set priorities and order of importance just as you would do for any other employee performance criteria. A Facebook post for an upcoming event is more critical than the next Pinterest update. This will let employees focus on what’s most critical.
2. Select your social tools and platforms carefully.
- Not all tools and platforms will work for your organization. Time, money and resources are limited, so choose carefully. For example, Twitter — which can be very effective in the selling environment — takes significant time and dedication to obtain good results from. Understand and plan to do it well, or don’t do it at all.
3. Ensure a safe environment.
- Setting behavioral boundaries and communicating them clearly make employees feel safe. If your employees think they will be fired if they make a mistake, their participation will be colored by that fear. For employees to perform at their best, they should be empowered, not cowed.
- A social policy is one of the best ways to set behavioral boundaries. Read the social policies of Cisco, Intel and Coca-Cola. They are practical, empowering and innovative.
4. Be socially competent.
- New skills are needed for succeeding in this environment. Don’t expect that everyone has them.
- Promote and host social training programs that ensure best practices, and hone skill sets, such as social selling. Employees will feel more confident, and productivity will rise.
5. Manage performance.
- Reinforce social media goals just as you would other goals. Review them regularly and make the necessary refinements to ensure that they are working optimally for your business.
- Present clear expectations and recognize outstanding achievements. Provide consistent, frequent feedback.
Although using social media is a complex topic, these five steps can create a practical, realistic starting point for transforming your business from spectator to participant.