Here is some excellent advice from Louis Columbus, Senior Manager Enterprise with Cincom Systems, Getting Results From Your Social Networking Strategies. Be sure to check out the complete source article for more on each of the five lessons outlined below:
We’re all getting reminded every day to take ownership of our digital brands and jump on social networks. For companies the pressure they put on themselves is enormous. So strong in fact that I’ve heard of CEOs monitoring follower counts on their corporate Twitter accounts a few times a day. It’s no surprise that in the past six months there have been more companies joining Facebook, Friendfeed, and Twitter, starting executive blogs, podcasting and videocasting than ever before.
Many of these companies have no idea if these efforts are paying off or not. Some have no idea if they are actually helping their brands to be seen as more knowledgeable and trusted. Best case they are educating prospects and consumers, worst case they are quickly earning a reputation for spamming their followers. It’s time for a reset of expectations on social networking strategies as a result. The initial excitement any company’s marketing and PR departments generates by creating accounts and blogs quickly gives away to tracking popularity-based metrics instead of ones that can lead to long-term results. This is a major problem for companies attempting to get results from their social networking strategies today.
Social Networks Are Not a Popularity Contest…
Unfortunately many companies including the CEO of one I know of check follower counts like other CEOs check their stock price – religiously and often. I’ve noticed this popularity contest mentality in companies I’ve been tracking for years as they venture into social networking. They get a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, YouTube Channel, LinkedIn account, get Wikipedia pages done, even a Flickr account, and maybe even have an executive blog or two set up. Once created all of these social networking accounts never gel together; they stay separate and often send confusing, even contradictory messages. It’s easy to tell what’s going on internally. Social networks are being evaluated only on one metric: popularity. The longer a company only relies on that single metric the longer the social networking efforts fail to deliver.
Making Social Networks Relevant To Strategies First
Conversely there are those companies who take a different approach to social networking and use its innate strengths to better communicate with and serve customers. They realize customers own the experience, a great point that Paul Greenberg makes in his latest book, CRM at the Speed of Light, 4th Edition. I highly recommend you pick this book up and read it. Paul does a great job of showing how companies who are getting the greatest value from participating in social networks are customer-driven. They create entire strategies based on the strengths social networks give them to connect with customers and aren’t afraid to be accountable for their customer service performance. Paul’s book is a great framework for learning how to transform your company using social networks to better connect with customers.
Making It Happen Now
After having read Paul’s book and also from the observations of companies as they move into social networking, some attaining success while others struggle, the following lessons emerge:
- Begin with customer in mind first
- Get your company to quit spinning its wheels on popularity metrics
- Accountability is King
- Drive and measure metrics by strategy not by social metric
- Stay ahead of the content curve by finding passionate contributors
Bottom line: Strengthening your marketing, PR, selling and customer service strategies with social networks deliver more measurable and relevant results than focusing on social networks alone.