The First Followers: generating momentum with a social media strategy

Social media is fast becoming a core element of marketing communications strategy. Particularly in the B2C space, brands are continuing to invest in integrating sophisticated social and digital channels into their campaigns to encourage consumer engagement.

But there are many organisations out there that are still reluctant to use social media as part of the marketing mix. The late-adopters of social media often perceive it as being too risky to send their brands out into the digital space, too costly to dedicate resources to or too overwhelming to know where to start.

Here are a few tips to help marketers who are busy trying to establish social media as a priority with your client or business:

1.       Get the ball rolling. 

If you’re starting from scratch and need some ‘quick wins’ to get the conversation started online, one of the best things to do is to get your own workmates and friends to ‘like’ your new Facebook page, follow on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. Getting an initial community of online followers can go a surprisingly long way in getting exposure for your brand. The added bonus of getting internal followers is that and helps to put your social media strategy on the map with key stakeholders.

2.       Start creating content – by yourself if required!

You may need to create your own content to post when starting out, particularly if your client or company is new to social media. In an in-house role this might mean going out into the business to source stories from people you might not normally talk to. If you’re working in an agency, it may mean that you need to spend time in your client’s business to get the bigger picture.

Also, don’t forget to look at what you already have around the business – there is usually loads of great content lying around that you can re-purpose into blog posts, Tweets and even visual Instagram photo posts. How about that market commentary article that went out to clients in the last reporting cycle? Those images sitting on file of the marquee project that is underway? Or the staff induction presentation slides that explain what your company is all about? Even non-work related content like photos from the latest staff party can give online followers a glimpse of the culture and people behind the brand.

3.       Call in backup 

Particularly if it is just you on the crusade to get social media marketing up-and-running in the business you might feel that your stakeholders are getting tired of hearing the same things. If this is the case, try to find someone from outside the business to reinvigorate and freshen up the message.

It is even better to identity key opinion leaders within the business to get onboard and start engaging with your social media strategy. By getting a selection of influential staff to contribute by updating their LinkedIn profiles, starting an online discussion or posting a comment, hopefully other staff will take notice and follow their lead.

4.       Create a content calendar 

Once you have built up some momentum and people are starting to engage both inside and outside the business, try to encourage other staff to contribute by creating content. By creating a schedule for content creation you can enlist the help of others to spread the task of maintaining the regularity your posts.

Posting fresh content regularly is an absolute must for keeping your online audience engaged. After all, social media brand-building must be a sustained effort; there’s nothing that looks worse to your followers than having bursts of campaign-specific post activity after long periods of nothing.

5.       Be prepared to be accountable

If you’re in the position of trying to ‘sell’ your social media strategy to internal stakeholders, the chances are that you’re business has questions around ROI. Even though social media marketing can be done for ‘free’ you need to remember that there is an opportunity cost on your time. Essentially you need to be prepared to justify the time you have dedicated to social media with concrete data.

Today there are some great social analytics tools to help you determine the effectiveness of your social media content. Some managers and clients will need more detail than others around reach, click-through rates etc., but even anecdotal evidence can go a long way to communicating results. For example, maybe there is a story of a store receiving an uplift in customer calls in the 24 hours after a post was made about a particular discount offer. By being prepared to give an account for performance against objectives you boost the credibility of social media and can demonstrate the important role it plays in the overall marketing strategy.

I’d be very interested to hear from anyone out there facing barriers to implementing social channels into their campaigns. Leave a comment or give me a shout out on Twitter – don’t be a stranger!

JB

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