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Effective Social Media Strategies – Four Tips, Four Benefits

C ompanies that incorporate best practices in their approach to social media can get the maximum benefit from social media initiatives.

by Madhur Chaturvedi

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With the explosion of social media usage around the world, social media websites have become an important platform for businesses to engage with customers, prospects, employees, and candidates. For customer interactions, companies use external social media platforms to engage with existing and prospective customers, reinforce brand messaging, influence customer opinions, provide targeted offers, and service customer more efficiently. In hiring, companies are using these platforms to reach out to and engage with prospective employees in a more targeted and engaging manner. In employee engagement, companies are deploying internal social media tools to drive greater employee engagement, collaboration, and productivity. In new product development and launch, companies are using a mix of internal and external social media tools for idea generation, idea evaluation, and fast new product launch.  

Social media strategies

As companies focus on effectively leveraging social media platforms, there are a few critical things to keep in mind. Here are the four strategies that have achieved superior results:

1. Develop a comprehensive social media strategy. While Facebook And Twitter are the most used social media platforms, a comprehensive social media strategy should incorporate additional social media platforms where customers, prospects, employees and candidates could be talking about the company. Some examples include:

  • Business networking and hiring platforms such as Linkedin
  • Industry-specific platforms, e.g. travel forums, automotive message boards
  • Specialty multimedia sharing sites such as YouTube and Pinterest
  • Country-specific platforms such as Renren.com

To be able to know which social media platforms to incorporate as part of its social media strategy, a company needs to systematically track top platforms where the company and its brands are being discussed.

2. Establish a two-way communication model. Companies who use social media just to disseminate information to customers may not see high returns from social media usage. Instead, companies who use social media platforms as a two-way communication medium tend to have a more successful social media approach. There are several tactics that can be used to establish two-way communication, including:

  • Posting questions and surveys related to the company as well as general topics of interests
  • Getting customers, prospects, employees, and candidates to share their queries and experiences related to the company and its products, as well as themes related to the company’s business (e.g., best travel stories). This can even extend to the sharing of photos and videos
  • Set up dedicated customer service pages, tabs, or handles, as well as dedicated candidate query pages, with a promise of high responsiveness

Doing this requires constant focus on generating new ideas and content for social media, as well as the ability to post content and responses in a highly efficient and streamlined manner.

3. Retain control of content being posted on behalf of the company. Some companies tend to outsource their social media asset management to their advertising partners. In such situations, however, companies should make sure they retain control of and full editorial rights to what is being posted on their behalf. Companies can do this by putting in placed automated approval workflows and escalation processes between their partners and internal teams.

4. Set targets and measure performance. It is critical for companies embarking on social media initiatives to set targets, measure performance against those targets, and compare their performance against competitors. What is measured gets improved. Some of the key performance indicators to track include:

  • Share of social media conversations for the company/brand vis-à-vis competitors
  • Positive and negative sentiment for the company/brand vis-à-vis competitors
  • Monthly addition in number of social media followers
  • Average time taken to respond to comments by social media users by type of comment (e.g. positive feedback, customer service issue)
  • Percent of résumés being sourced via social media, and percent of positions being closed through social media 

Reaping the benefits

Companies who incorporate these best practices in their social media strategy can get the maximum benefit from their social media initiatives. Some of the benefits include:

1. Overall: Increased followership on social media sites and increased brand share of voice on social media platforms vis-à-vis competitors

2. Sales improvements: Sales leads generated from social media platforms; and improved conversion of leads through actively engaging with prospects, providing targeted offers via social media, and driving greater brand advocacy by providing an open platform for happy customers to voice their opinions

3. Customer service improvements: Reduced time of responding to customers and improved customer satisfaction

4. Efficiency improvements:
A large number of customers/prospects/candidates reached at a lower cost compared to traditional advertising/communication media, marketing campaigns executed faster, and faster ability to hire.

A social media strategy that incorporates the key principles listed above can results in significant benefits from social media usage for companies.

Madhur Chaturvedi is director of Insight and Customer Strategy at Oracle.

 
 
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