Social media has fundamentally changed the way that brands and customers interact. Any modern social media strategy extends far beyond posting links to a company blog or landing page. In fact, social media is one of the most complex and robust digital channels around. At its core, social media communications by your brand and employees should align with the mission and vision of the organization, help you build and strengthen relationships with your customers and prospects, and ultimately drive revenue and loyalty.
This blog post dives into the five core pillars of an integrated social media strategy for businesses: customer care, marketing, selling, competitive intelligence, and employee advocacy.
Caring for the Customer
While social media was once considered an alternative channel for customer support, it has quickly become one of the leading channels that consumers use to engage with brands. Today, customers expect a fairly immediate response when they engage with your company on social.
From a business standpoint, context is key in understanding who is engaging your social support team and why. Having a social media playbook for your customer care team is vital to guiding their response. Any playbook worth its salt should contain the following:
- Information on the groups that own particular responses along with a service level agreement (SLA) for response time
- What scenarios require a rapid response—such as whether the consumer is an influencer or presents a particular kind of issue—and a protocol for such responses
- An escalation path for mission-critical or PR crisis moments that involves not just the social customer care team, but the communications department of the organization at large
Detailing the different kinds of customer issues in a social media playbook, along with appropriate brand response and escalation paths, is an essential component of a watertight social media strategy.
Building Social into Your Marketing Strategy
By now, savvy marketers have concluded that organic social media is dead. For them, the social media landscape has largely become a paid channel akin to paid search or display. While an organic post—those messages that have no paid media component—can occasionally gain traction, banking on a post to go viral is a fool’s errand. Instead, you must adopt a paid-first strategy.
In the early days of social media marketing, you would boost a post for likes and shares. But today’s suite of social marketing tools allows you to target specific visitors for specific objectives, such as online conversion, video views, or link clicks. Wrapping a social marketing strategy around your company’s goals with measurable KPIs is not only possible but incredibly effective.
The key is to make sure that your social media strategy is integrated with all of your marketing efforts, both online and offline. Don’t let social media be an add-on to your marketing strategy—incorporate it from the beginning. And when it comes to using hashtags, make sure you do so strategically. Not considering all the possibilities could result in a major social media blunder just because you were trying to be part of the conversation on a hashtag.
Empowering Your Sales Team with Social Selling
Throughout the journey of becoming a customer, your prospects are doing a ton of independent research—this is especially true for products sold by B2B companies. Therefore, it is extremely important for businesses to have a social media strategy for monitoring online conversations, sharing relevant content, and connecting prospects with the right people in your sales and support organizations.
The channel that is most critical to social selling is LinkedIn, and it would be sensible for sales teams at B2B companies to invest in LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator platform. But social selling goes beyond the tech: it’s imperative that your team know how to discover, connect, and hand off prospects to sellers in a way that the outbound efforts build confidence and trust.
Gathering Strategic Competitive Intelligence with Social Listening
Having awareness of how your customers feel about your business is important. Using social listening tools, you can gather intelligence by:
• Analyzing how your audience is engaging with your competitors
• Understanding more about the relevant wants and needs of your consumers
• Examining the tactics of your competitors on social media
• Quantifying your brand’s share of the online conversation
Implementing a strategic social listening program will yield information that helps your company to better develop and market its products. Applying the insights you glean from social media listening into a SWOT analysis allows you to adapt in an industry that that changes rapidly.
Employee Social Advocacy
Your company’s social brand is not just a reflection of its own social interactions; it is also influenced by what your employees say and do. A social media strategy would be deficient if it turned a blind eye to your employees’ activities, influence, and relationships on social platforms.
Implementing an employee social advocacy program can help your workforce become more conscientious about how they conduct themselves on social media. Your employees’ social footprint influences selling and recruiting, and one employee slip-up online could result in a major social media blunder for your company.
Governance: The Underpinning of Social Media Strategy for Businesses
But the foundation of all these social media strategy pillars is governance. You need to know who has access to each account, make sure that your company complies with industry regulations, and ensure that all social media interactions adhere to the rules of engagement.
If your company needs assistance developing social media strategies or governance, Social Business Works can help. I have practical, front-line experience with each of the strategies discussed in this article. In addition to leading social media strategy for a leading cloud computing provider, I have helped steer the implementation of social selling and employee advocacy programs, developed competitive intelligence products and dashboards, and rolled out social governance programs in the tech, health care, and retail industries. In short, Social Business Works is the social media firm that will help you evolve into a high-performing social business.
No matter where you are in the life-cycle of your social media program, I invite you to take our quick social media health check and to learn more about our services. You can also complete the form below for more information or chat with us right now.