Wednesday, August 25, 2010

6 Characteristics of High Functioning Social Media Strategies

Recently I was working with a colleague on analyzing social media efforts of companies, specifically consulting firms.  Through our efforts we discovered there were six key characteristics that dictated if a consulting firm had a high functioning social media effort/strategy.  We then began to talk and found that these same six characteristics applied beyond the consulting field and could be used as a benchmark to measure a company’s social media strategy.  These six characteristics are the following:

1.Exhibits thought leadership
2.Connects followers to real world events
3.Speaks to multiple target audience members
4.Information is shared by audience with their peers
5.The company shares others’ news and postings
6.Company seeks customer input

Let’s dive a little deeper into these.

  1. Exhibit Thought Leadership-  This can be accomplished through posting articles that you or your company writes, re-posting industry advice that you find helpful, offering a bit of free advice (similar to what I’m doing now with these 6 characteristics) in which you are the expert, and announcing any awards that you have won.  Thought leadership is key to making you standout from your industry crowd.  If your social media becomes the go-to place for consumers, businesses, etc for advice and help, this will grow your brand, help your marketing, and eventually help you to make sales.
  2. Connect followers to real world events- Why are people on social media? To CONNECT!  You need to be offering the opportunity for people to network, learn about your product in person, etc.  Have a networking wine and cheese event, host a webinar on “The top 2 things you should be doing in XXXX industry” with limited space, invite people to industry or association events.  People should be able to pursue interaction beyond simply reading what you post to Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.  Again, you are creating an opportunity to drive loyalty, interaction, and value for the people who are watching your social media.
  3. Speak to multiple target audiences-   This should apply to anything you put out into Social Media.  It does not matter if you only have one product, people use it for different purposes and your customers are probably from different target segments.  A great example of this would be a company that sells home improvement products- They need to target professional contractors, weekend fix-it dads, moms, busy young professionals.  This company could offer tips on remodeling your kitchen, 3 things to make sure your child’s room is safe, Fast Fixes You Need to Know, 6 Honey Do’s you can get done tonight, Plumbing 101, 10 ways to hang a picture- We’ll show you the right one, etc.  Offer something on painting, sanding, general repair, etc, etc. These keep your audience engaged, are likely to be passed along to friends, are USEFUL, and apply to a range of audiences.
  4. Information is shared by your audience- What a simple and desirable idea, but it can be very difficult to accomplish!  People will share INTERESTING information.  The information you need to post has to be relevant and interesting to them.  Like with the home improvement example above, 6 Honey Do’s You Can Get Done Tonight… What wife/girlfriend wouldn’t want to pass that along?  Offering diverse content that is engaging and helpful is one of the best ways to encourage people to share your content.  Beyond that, providing people with information they can share and through sharing appear like a thought leader to their friends is another great way to encourage sharing content.  I know that I recently ReTweeted a Tweet on working to develop your SEO backlinks.  This information was helpful for me and I wanted to share it with my peers to help them out.  Valuable content gets shared; it is as simple as that.
  5. The Company Shares others information- This one may seem counter intuitive, sharing what others are posting, but again it makes you seem human and not a one man show.  When you share industry news, articles, helpful tips from others, you quickly further establish yourself as a hub for great information in the industry.  This means that people will continue to come to your social media sites, read what you are posting about your company and what you’re reposting from others.  Now obviously there is a caveat to this… Don’t share content that is going to drive your readers to your competitors!
  6. Seek customer input- While many companies are afraid to do this, this feedback can be one of your best assets.  Asking customers what they thought about a product, event, etc will illicit great feedback that you can either use to improve your product or leverage as positive word of mouth marketing.  The key here is that you have to respond and interact with your customers to make this feedback useful and avoid any damage negative reviews could potentially bring.  Be ready to fix any negative experiences and amplify positive feedback.

These are the 6 characteristics of a highly effective social media strategy and effort.  If you would like to have an analysis done on your company to see where you fall in comparison to your competitors or just in general- feel free to contact me.

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