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If you Google the question, “Where do I start on social media?” you’ll be greeted with approximately 1.4 billion results. 1.4 billion.
While many of these results will be duplicate versions, it’s clear that getting started on social media is a question many people are looking for an answer to. Add the word “business,” and run a similar search, and you’ll find around 1.2 billion results. Blog posts, news articles, corporate videos and more—again, everyone is looking to find out the right way to do social media.
The secret, if it can be called that, is simple: You need to start out right and, much like everything else you do in business, have a plan with measurable milestones and results.
From monitoring conversations online to discussing with clients, the overarching theme that prevents successful business use of social media is a lack of understanding of why they want to be on social media.
Typical responses include, “Our competitors are on there,” “Because everyone’s doing it,” and “We don’t want to be left behind.” The problem with these answers is they don’t dig deep enough into the bigger questions that you need to answer:
These are the three basic questions that need to be asked if you’re using the competitor comparison as a reason to be on social media. Having the answers to those questions will allow you to move to the next stage.
Once you’ve analyzed and answered the “why” behind the decision to be on social media, the next stage is the one that will more often than not determine how successful you are—where you need to be.
There are literally hundreds of social networks online, and these are the platforms that are actually recognized as bonafide social networks, along the lines of power hitters Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Add in forums, niche networks, community blog networks and more, and it's no wonder so many businesses have trouble finding the right path. This is where smart passive use of social media is needed.
By starting out slowly, based on analytical evidence on why you should be on your chosen platforms, you set yourself up for a far better chance of success than jumping in blindly. This allows you to create the third stage.
Of course, this entire preliminary work means nothing if you’re not going to set goals and success metrics to measure your social media use. Every brand has different needs and requirements. Here are a few to consider:
Social media is a fantastic resource for truly connecting your brand to your customers, both existing and potential. But it also takes a lot of time, experimentation and investment to pay off—so you need to make sure you have certain metrics in place to measure how you’re doing.
The ability to measure how you’re doing is crucial when it comes to buy-in across the company. Having a clearly structured plan to measure success will help pave the way for further investment.
To compare milestones, technologies like Pulse Analytics and Maven Social can help you identify your successes, your weaker areas, and which customers/advocates are driving the most interaction and profit.
As you can see, it’s not a quick or simple jump to make, contrary to popular advice. But by being smart when it comes to why you should be on social media and, more importantly, how you measure your effectiveness, you’re setting yourself up for success rather than failure.
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