I speak to our clients hundreds of times throughout our relationship together. The conversations range from minutia to broad strokes on strategy and without fail the dialogue takes on a life of its own as we delve deeper into the specifics of the client’s strategy.
Often, my generalized ideas about how to help my clients reach success with social media change as I learn more about their business processes and from the information shared during our discovery process. What starts out as a clear cut idea for success is regularly tested as we move forward.
So how can a social media practitioner, someone that a company turns to for advice and guidance, ensure that the advice they bring to the table is going to stand the test of time?
Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned and most importantly some of the touch points that we focus on to make sure we can help our clients get the most out of their experience with us:
Determine exactly what you (or your client) wants from social media
You can call it goal setting, expectations, results, ROI or any number of other things. But the fact remains, to help anyone formulate a plan for utilizing social media you must understand exactly what results are expected. It could be as simple as getting noticed within their peer group or as complex as streamlining their internal business processes across all departments. You can’t take a shot in the dark, there is no room for slinging crap against the wall and waiting to see what sticks.
Frame your strategy
I think we all know that a strategy is just the beginning. A great strategy is useless without proper execution and a commitment to rework the strategy as change happens. The act of posting and being active in social environments alone is destined to fail without a sound strategy to guide your activity.
One of the most crucial activities we engage in with our clients is to frame a strategy focused on the outcomes that our clients are seeking, and to testing that strategy continuously as we move forward. It is imperative that everyone, whether an individual or a large company, have that strategy in mind to focus their efforts on actions that are most likely to serve the end goals. Look at all options, read case studies of those that have come before you, test ideas where possible and try to create a strategy that accounts for as many variables as possible.
A good strategy will include a detailed overview of the goals, ROI benchmarks, players and assets that will be utilized, SEO keywords to target, a profile of the people or businesses that you want to connect and interact with, the social assets that will be necessary to carryout the strategy, the landing pages on your website or blog that will be targeted, and many other key points.
Consistently execute to the details of your strategy
The real work begins once the social media strategy has been created, the key points discussed and tested when possible, and the company is ready to begin executing on the strategy. Too often, a strategy is created and then the passion begins to wane. It’s hard work to look at all of the options that COULD work and determine what should be done.
Success in social media will only be possible if you commit to pursuing your strategy with a consistent and diligent effort. This means taking action that is in concert with your strategy on a daily basis. You must connect to people and companies that are complimentary to your goals and you must foster an interaction with them in order to see any results. It takes time and it rarely comes from little effort.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Right?”
Anyone seeking to harness the power of the new social economy must keep this in mind. Like any other endeavor, it takes diligence and a commitment to continue to push forward. You never know where your big opportunities will come from or when they will be presented to you.
Don’t expect too much in the short run
One of the biggest hurdles we face as a company that advises others on the use of social media is managing the expectation for success. Of course, the strategy that we helped create will define what success means but it is often difficult to apply an accurate time line to when success will materialize. The variables that determine this include the amount of effort that is applied and the willingness for the company to make changes to their strategy as reality and opportunity dictate.
The bottom line is not to expect too much in the short run.
Social activity online is like any other relationship in that you have to nurture it over time, build trust with those that you interact with and then be there when they need you or your services. Companies that understand this know that it is imperative to make changes to the strategy as flaws are realized or when the landscape changes. Be flexible and don’t fear situations that may present themselves or assume they are obstacles to your success. Instead, rethink your strategy and modify it to your advantage. Very seldom will you find that you hit a wall that you simply cannot climb, or better yet, navigate around.
Fail like Google: “failing fast, but failing smart,”
Ok. It may sounds naive for me to say that everything can be addressed or used to your advantage but for the most part I have found that to be true. If you do find that your social activities have produced a reality for you or your organization that cannot be overcome, you do have a Plan B.
Fail like Google.
Their mantra of failing fast, but failing smart should resonate with all business owners. Know when to cut your losses and try a different tact. It is better to change course quickly than to continue to apply tactics or a strategy that is proving to be flawed.
We’re not suggesting you simply abandon social media if your goals aren’t being met instantly. Go back to the strategy and reassess. Figure out why an anticipated outcome isn’t happening, and adjust your tactics.
Your social media success certainly comes with a price. Invest the time in the beginning to define what you are willing to do, what your are willing to commit to creating success online. Being prepared will certainly serve your company better than just entering the social media arena with all guns blazing and no plan to speak of.
The big questions are:
- What does it take for you to be successful with social media?
- What are you willing to commit for a chance at success? At growth? At securing your company’s future online?
- What are your goals for participation?
- How are you going to get there?
Image courtesy of chichacha