By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog. You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. http://bit.ly/1cKPcjn
Keystone cops from the great silent-film comedies refer to, in this case, a lack of coordinated social media tactics performed with great zeal on behalf of your company. The term describes how nobody really understands what’s happening or gets where it’s all going.
“I see people doing tactics before setting up distribution networks,” says Olivier Taupin who owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members. It’s better to first establish the proper mindset for social business as part of an overall strategy.
Here’s four more red lights the social media strategist encounters on a regular basis.
- This increasingly common request: “We want you to manage our social media.” There’s great expectations for product launches and frantic calls to promote attendance at special events—yet, relationships haven’t been established to help share the messages on networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and Pinterest. The CRM’s email database is incomplete, too.
- “We have an event in 2 weeks and need a Twitter campaign to fill the room.” Alarmingly, this is a familiar call. The challenge is the company has insufficient followers which often leads to reliance on the network belonging to their social media specialist. It never works because the vendor’s followers generally have nothing to do with your business. Don’t get us wrong: It is possible to generate much interest with little advance notice using certain tactics but those relationships are shaky and likely won’t last.
- “We know our customers. We have a list.” You may know your clients well after years of long-time service but there will be trouble going forward finding new prospects. Customers retire…move on…change positions. You constantly need to develop the sales funnels and new prospects are living online.
- “My company doesn’t have a social media plan but I’m pretty good.” Yes, individuals may have connections here and there on various networks but the overall company is entirely disconnected. “The future belongs to the corporation that recognizes its strength is the sum of personal brands belonging to all who work there,” predicts Olivier.
- Hiring a social media manager to do it all does not work. If you assign all responsibility for social media to a single person, “You are setting up the social media manager for failure.” You might want to call the position a social media coordinator since it is not possible for one individual to do it all. “The good news is when 100 people send out 100 positive tweets about a product launch, the brand takes full advantage of the power of social media.”
Confusion also reigns when social media is not aligned with the corporate vision, mission, and strategic objectives. If all the departments are constantly tripping over each other, the promise of your brand becomes an empty pledge. Worse, a brand can derail.
Each department may be using social media but employees are using different networks for reasons known only to them. For example, branding gets confused when HR considers the company culture to be traditional in nature but IT staff regard themselves as forward thinking while PR delivers still another profile to investors and the media.
Sales Bench Index (SBI) echoes this message in How to make your number in 2016. This insightful report advised that, in 2001, “57% of the buyer journey was complete before a salesperson was actively involved in the process. By 2015, this number had reached 69%.” Content marketing did not work so well and neither did social selling or free trials—if these strategic plans masqueraded as strategy.
Departments were working in isolation and in conflict with one another. “…The wheels were all spinning, but not in the same direction,” noted SBI.
“It’s time to set up a collaborative group drawn from key departments,” says Olivier. “Social media is everybody’s business,” which means that representation comes from sales, marketing, operations, customer support, IT, and HR.
Before you start, here’s some guiding principles.
- Train your employees and then trust them. Host regular company webinars/seminars to update employees, deliver general information materials including the annual report and on-boarding guidelines, send event hashtags and photos for sharing to employees together with corporate identity logos.
- Link everybody. CEOs are linked to their direct report and one level lower. All employees are linked to their team lead who make up the umbrella group for social media. This helps the entire company know what each other is saying and doing in the networks, implement a rapid response strategy when required, and immediately handle customer service requests.
- We’re all receptionists emphasizes Olivier which means employees at all levels become the eyes and ears of the company. Where responsibilities previously were assigned to a single individual, “we’re all part of it.”
As to general social media policy, keep it simple, says Olivier:
- Confidential information is not shared;
- All shared information is positive;
- The corporate identity that includes logo, colours, and content previously approved by the company is available for publication;
- New material is passed by communications marketing or respective unit managers before publication;
- Comments align with the company culture outlined within the vision, mission, values, and current strategic objectives.
Now you’re ready for the 7-Point Setup Plan
- Conduct an audit. Learn which networks your employees have joined on behalf of the company, determine their activity level, and whether messages are aligned.
- Form a collaborative social media team with department heads to build an aligned and coordinated social media strategy.
- Set up personal profiles on selected networks for all executives who don’t have accounts including the CEO and members of the board.
- Set up the company page on LinkedIn.
- Position the Twitter account with an individual rather than the corporate logo.
- Set up profiles on LinkedIn for everyone in your business unit. If you have 100 people in a business unit, you have 100 LinkedIn profiles on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
- Ensure that everyone is linked together through the social media coordinator appointed by the collaboration team.
Next up: Build connections, followers and fans on each of the social channels. This helps with finding your existing customers online as well as attracting people with a potential interest in your business.
Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.