(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – More and more small businesses are getting involved with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Before jumping into these communities with your own business, read this short list we’ve put together about what to consider before investing your time.
1. Develop Strategy
Before doing anything, you should first determine what kind of information your company can offer an audience on social media. Your preliminary analysis should include plans for marketing, public relations, and other areas such as human resources and customer service.
2. Set Goals
Businesses should set specific, realistic, and measurable goals they wish to achieve with social media to determine how to proceed with content direction. Do you wish to increase sales, brand awareness, etc.? Outline the goals from the very beginning to achieve more success.
3. Establish a Team
Social media should not be thought of as an automatic activity. It should be determined from the beginning which employee(s) will be responsible for managing the various aspects of your social media presence. Ensure that they have sufficient time and resources to coordinate the activities, because depending on the response from your audience, it could become more time consuming than originally thought.
4. Calculate Potential Cost
As mentioned in the previous point, you will want to be certain that the members of your “social media team” have the resources they need to succeed. This will likely involve very little hard cost, but will involve time. Estimate the amount of hours per week needed to operate the social media channels for your business, and make sure you are prepared to handle it.
5. Identify Target Audience
Determine where your target audience spends most of its time online, and on which social media platforms. In addition to the major social networks (Facebook, Google+, Twitter), there might be smaller, more specialized message boards and forums.
6. Perform Monitoring
It is important to establish a method of monitoring social media activity. Monitoring provides insight into what is being discussed about the business, its products, or its competitors. These results can be utilized in marketing and PR, as well as in sales, service, or product development.
7. Specify Content
Content shared on social media should be tailored to the information needs of the target audience, and take into account the specificities of the different social platforms. For instance, something created and shared on Facebook might not be as relevant for your audience on Twitter, and vice versa.
8. Handle Customer Complaints
One side-effect of establishing the social media presence for your business is that it makes it much easier for customers to reach out. Customer comments can range anywhere from compliments to complaints, and it is important to handle each one as you would if they were customers in your building.
9. Measure Success
The success of your social media activities should be continuously measured based on the originally defined goals. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be established to evaluate whether your strategy is on the right track or needs some adjustment.
10. Motivate Employees
Every business involved with social media should establish a set of social media guidelines for its employees to follow. The guidelines outline the opportunities and risks of social media, and provide specific details on how employees should behave on behalf of the company online. Information sessions and training programs will help ensure that the guidelines are implemented throughout the company.
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