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Despite the overwhelming popularity of social media, many businesses haven’t yet fully adopted social networking as a legitimate marketing tool. If you have, you’ve taken one step in the right direction. But be warned: Don't use social media just for the sake of using it—that's not going to help your business. You need to use social media strategically for it to have a positive impact on your business.
So what does it take to create a successful social media campaign? It takes policies, processes, a social playbook, technologies and training. Sound overwhelming? If you can master these success factors, you can benefit from the power of social media regardless of how far you've come on your journey to becoming a social business.
1. Know your business objectives. You can’t align your social strategy with your business objectives if you don’t even know what your objectives are. Define and refine.
2. Have a long-term vision to become a converged social business. If you’re not striving toward the end goal, you’re likely to veer off the path. If you want your team to fully invest in your social strategy—and you need the support of your entire team—you’ll need to communicate your vision with clarity and passion.
3. Obtain key executive support. As a business owner, you should have this one in the bag. But if you’re working with an executive team, you need to get them on board.
4. Generate a road map. You already know your business objectives and have a clear vision. But how are you going to get there? Plan out your route, what roads you’ll travel and what roads you’ll avoid. Your road map should also outline the types of technologies you’ll need to invest in to implement new initiatives you have planned down the road.
5. Dedicate to the process and ongoing training. What’s your process for listening and responding to your customers on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Who is responsible for posting updates, responding to queries and monitoring activity? If you clearly define this process, and stick to it, you’ll spend less time floating along throughout the social sphere and more time strategizing your social growth. Most small-business owners don’t have the time to take complete control over managing their social media presence, and that means you’ll need to train someone else to perform in accordance with your vision, road map and process.
6. Plan for current and future staffing needs. In the early stages of social growth, you might outsource your social media campaign to an agency, and that’s fine. But you should also be looking down the road and planning to develop internal resources to take your company to the next level as your social prowess—and your business—grows.
7. Hold off on technology decisions until your strategy is in place. Resist the temptation to jump on the latest technology bandwagon before you have the first few success factors under control. Without a vision, process and strategic social media plan, it’s impossible to know what technologies will help you achieve those objectives. Hold off on making any technology investments until you’re equipped with a sound vision and strategic plan.
Face it: Your time as a small-business owner is precious. Why waste it on marketing initiatives that aren't making an impact on your bottom line? Social media done right can have a huge impact on your success, so take advantage. Download Altimeter Group's report, The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Business Transformation, to find out where you fall among the six stages of social business transformation and what you can do today to catapult your business to the next level.
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