This month’s Richmond research on career planning asks what training our delegates would most like. Top of the list are Leadership and Social Media. We are therefore including some thoughts on Social Media Strategy in an extract from a report by TomorrowToday.
There can be no doubt that social media is a valuable business tool, especially for companies that are built around networking and connecting people to people. But too many people and organisations are using it ineffectively. In fact, some are actively damaging themselves by using social media badly. In order to get the most out of social media, it is important to have a clear strategy and a number of structures in place.
Each DSA company is different, serving different markets in different ways, and each DSA company is at a different stage of their journey towards effectively using social media and digital tools. This report cannot, therefore, provide “one size fits all” recommendations. What this report can do is provide a framework for decision making and strategy for the next few years.
A few years ago, a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Seven Characteristics Of Companies "Effectively Using Social Media" received critical acclaim. The seven habits remain true today, and the framework we suggest below will assist you to put these in place. They are:
Specific goals, integrated with other strategies and objectives
Had a budget
Use social media for more than just outward communication
Talk and listen
Linked to marketing solutions.
This section of the DSA social media report outlines the systems and structures required to develop a social strategy, and provides an eight step process for deciding on your social media strategy. You will then be much better place to determine where best to focus your resources for maximum effect in the social space. The next section will go into detail on best practice on each social media platform. These can be used at both a corporate level, and for individual distributors and their teams.
Developing a Social Strategy
Before diving into different social media platforms, it is vital to ensure that everyone in your network (corporate and distributors) has a clear picture of what you plan to do with social (why, what, how, when and who are all important, but especially the what and why).
A key observation of the social media presence of many of the DSA member companies is that they seem to lack a cohesive social strategy. In the absence of this thinking the social activity is experienced as a directionless "bumbling" that adds little to the brand and risks detracting from it.
We highly recommend you run a workshop on your social media usage, working through the following eight steps to ensure your social strategy is properly developed and understood. Note that you will come to each of these steps over and over again as you develop your social media presence.
1. What must social do for you?
There are many different things that social media would be good for. At the end of the next section of this report, we provide a comprehensive list, with suggestions about which social platforms would be best for which purposes. But there is a danger that you try and use social media to do everything. This will result in brand confusion. It would be even worse if you use a social platform inappropriately – the users of that platform will turn against you. And, as you know in face-to-face interactions, only being in “sales mode” all the time tends to backfire on you quite quickly.
So, the starting point is to define what you want social media to do for you. This question can only be answered by knowing your stakeholders and market. There are a variety of levels on which social could be useful, but the real questions are:
What are people in our network using social for already?
How are people likely to use social to connect with us?
For DSA companies, social can be used for brand awareness, marketing, advertising, sales promotions, selling, promoting the business opportunity, promoting the lifestyle benefits of the product and company, generating interest, for customer service, complaint or query handling, FAQ (frequently asked question) forums and general communication. It can also be used internally or by corporate head offices for team communication, team building, training and motivation. But each of these will only work if you know how people use different social platforms, and connect appropriately.
For most consumers, for example, social media is not a place to go for purchasing. They don’t want their social platforms filled with adverts, product plugs or business opportunities. So what are they looking for, in relation to what you’re selling? And how do you get their attention?
The “Golden Rule” of selling and advertising on the Internet, and especially on social media platforms, is that people will only buy from you when they’re actually in a buying mode. What this means is that the most effective advertising online - by far - is advertising precisely when and where people are looking to buy something (e.g. in search engines, at online shops or on consumer advice websites). The concepts of “brand building”, billboards or broadcast advertising just don’t work online. In the social space, you need to clearly understand what your consumers and distributors use social media for.