We’d all like to grow more social businesses. After hearing about the positive effects that social media can have on our business, in terms of new customers, better word of mouth and brand perception, we’re sold on the idea. But that doesn’t mean we know what growing a social business truly entails. Sure, there’s the company Twitter account, but what does “being social” mean to every day operations? What does that look like on an internal level and what do you need to shift inside your organization to increase that sense of socialness with your customers and your employees?
If you’re still trying to figure out how your business or brand can “go social”, below are some frameworks to think about and how to get started making it happen.
Identify what is “social” about your business: Think about your business and write down all of the actions that you or customers that you take that are inherently social. Maybe it’s the content that you’re always creating. Or it’s the unique way you use customer feedback. Or how customers naturally share your products in their network. Every business has those organic social touch points. It’s your job to identify them and look at how you can leverage them.
Always start brainstorming how you can create even more social touch points by extending what you’re already doing. For example, maybe it’s making it easy and encouraging customers to share the reviews they’re naturally leaving on your Web site. Or maybe it’s turning the class you teach in your store into an interactive webinar. When social media becomes fully integrated into your business you’ll see a much greater payout with everyone working to the same beat.
Have a plan for it: My guess is that you wouldn’t purchase a new $5,000 machine for your SMB without knowing exactly how it was going to help your business. You’d probably have metrics and charts and ways to evaluate how it all worked before you ever brought it home. So don’t make a social media investment without identifying these same metrics. That Twitter or Facebook account may be free, but you pay with the time you’re investing. Develop a plan.
- What are you goals for social media?
- Which sites will you invest in? How will each be used?
- Who is the point person for all activity?
- What metrics will be tracked to judge ROI?
- What tools do you need to automate certain tasks and/or make it more efficient?
These are just a couple of the questions you’ll want to think about before jumping into the social media waters. If you don’t know what you’re doing there, you don’t know if you’ve reached your goal. Or if you’re just throwing away your investment.
Remove barriers to social media entry: For your business to be social, your team has to be social. That means everyone from your CEO to your newest receptionist has board the social media train. How do you get them there? By removing barriers to social media entry.
A barrier to social media may be a lack of education about tools available or it could be the fear that goes with learning a new platform. By creating educational resources you help calm their fears and remove that barrier. Another barrier may be that you expect employees to tweet after-hours, instead of while on the job. This may involve reassigning tasks to free up time or other things to help address those. But your business will never be social without knocking those walls down.
Make social everyone’s job: As powerful as we’ve heard social media is, it doesn’t work when you lock it in a closet and make it Marketing’s job. Or IT’s. Or the job of that new intern you just hired. Social media is everyone’s job because everyone in your organization is touching your customers in one way or another. Maybe they’re answering the service line when they call. Or they’re writing content to engage them on your Web site. Or they’re meeting them face-to-face to perform a service. By integrating social media tasks into your employees’ day you make your company more accountable to what they’re providing to your customers and more aware. A company that’s constantly engaging is a company today’s consumer wants to be associated with.
Reward the behavior: Anoint someone your company’s social media ambassador and make it their job to highlight employees who are using social media well within the organization. Maybe it’s a case where they were quickly able to address a customer service issue via Twitter or a neat contest idea they had for the brand’s Facebook page. By shining a light on these achievements you create a culture that is based on this level of engagement. And that’s something the whole organization and brand will be able to benefit from.
If you’re looking to become a more social media-minded company, it’s not just about figuring out what sites you want you to develop a presence on. It’s about understanding how to make your brand social from the inside out and putting the right procedures in place.