There is the perception that if your organization is not fully engaged in social media then you are losing ground to competitors, losing touch with supporters and falling woefully behind the times. To some extent that’s true. However, too many organizational leaders put the Twitter before the proverbial horse.
We do live in an age where social media is the way individuals communicate and digest news and information. On the business side there is an urgency to employ social media – and often social media experts – to drive the organization’s social engine. Many leaders know social media is important, but frankly I believe weight it too heavily in the grand scheme of things. When that happens, your organization may find itself social media rich and strategically poor from a marketing communications perspective.
Remember, the goal is not simply to have and maintain a Twitter account; the goal is to advance the vision and value of the brand. Social media is one of the means to an end, not the end. Here are six questions you should ask regarding your overall organizational communications infrastructure that will ensure a much more balanced and sustainable strategy to reaching brand goals.
1. Is your production process efficient?
Most organizations have graphic designers, writers, editors, web editors and possibly marketing specialists. If it doesn’t then there is a good chance freelancers accomplish the work. Either way, the vital marketing content you plan to push – some of which will feed social media – will not be consistently available in a timely manner if the production process is broken. You’ll never achieve maximum impact when that happens.
2. Is content flowing through your production pipeline?
The effort invested in an efficient production process is a waste of time if you don’t have a systematic way to pump content through that pipeline. Content is the backbone of any marketing strategy and is the substance that drives an effective social media strategy. Quality content that positions the expertise of your organization is the key to lead generation. Without it, you’ve got nothing to talk about on Twitter except what you had for lunch.
3. Is your website the hub of your activity?
View all traditional and social media marketing as spokes in a wheel, and your website as the hub at the center where all that activity anchors. It is the platform that supports everything you do. Ultimately, the goal of your social media effort should be to drive people to your website where you can inform, connect and sell. If you’ve been pouring more effort into social media than into having a solid website, it’s like eating appetizers while neglecting the steak.
4. Are your social networks realistic?
There are hundreds of social media networks according to a Pew Research study. Do you really need all those networks? Better question: Can you manage all those networks? I’ll answer for you. No, you can’t. When it comes to social media it is far better to do less well than spread yourself thin and receiving no return for your invested effort. Social media can be a time suck, and you’ve got other important things to do – like create quality content, develop a comprehensive strategy and feeding your killer website. Pick the networks that best connect with your target audience, maximize them and ignore the pressure to do more.
5. Is your content delivery systematic?
Picture a funnel. Now, instead of a narrow opening at the bottom, picture a manifold of sorts that systematically directs the marketing content poured in the top into multiple outlets . In other words, a single action triggers broadly disseminated information. For instance, a new blog entry posts on your website, the URL is Tweeted and also posted on Facebook. Maybe the content also posts to your organization’s LinkedIn profile. It does you no good to produce great content then have no systematic way to distribute it through your various channels.
6. Is your response mechanism effective?
Everything else is in order, but do you have a way for people to respond? Hey, you’re giving away a significant amount of intellectual capital and expertise, you want to get something in return, right? You need to have multiple ways for people to respond, maybe seeking more information or for setting up a consultation, to subscribe to an email list so that you can capture their email address (so they can be marketed to further), to buy something, to share something they saw on your site with their social networks, and a host of other desired responses. Creating an opportunity for response closes the circle – and may very well close the deal.
Positioning your organization and building brand value is so much more than being social media active. Positioning requires a thoughtful strategy that ensures sustainability and maximizes return on your investment. That way you can be strategy rich and social media richer.