By Bridget Paverd & Clara Mattucci
14 years later, too many companies are just checking the social media box without fully comprehending its role in strengthening their brand.
Too many organizations still approach social media in an arbitrary, ‘get it done’, ‘check the box’ manner. This is a huge blunder and a wasted opportunity. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn – these are platforms that should be wholly integrated into every organization’s communication and brand awareness strategies.
Social media is a relationship. A brand promise. A daily commitment to all your communities. Just as organizations have professional input for disciplines such as accounting, engineering, law, and HR – they need to recognize the need a strategic partner to design and implement social media strategies and conversations.
On a recent discovery process, our research team noted that as many as 23% of the corporate websites they visited had dormant or non-existent social media platforms. The links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest lead visitors to a digital graveyard.
Our firm was the first PR agency in the region to integrate social media into our PR campaigns. That was back in 2006, just two years after Facebook opened its platform to the general public. The challenges were enormous. We had to create our own playbook as we went along – it was exciting, challenging, rewarding and just a little brutal.
We urge you: commit to social media for your brand. Your community will love you for it. Give them a voice, share their experiences, enhance their interaction with your products and service. Loyalty ensures brand longevity.
Here are a few tactics from our social media playbook:
Social Media is a Labor-Intensive Commitment
There are some key words here. First: commitment. The digital landscape is littered with the accounts of companies and organizations – both big and small – that jumped into social media but failed to follow through with the commitment. In social media, content is king, and it reigns through maintaining relevance. So many websites proudly display social media icons and “follow us” or “connect with us” invitations. Yet, a click through to the social media accounts delivers crickets: “Hello? Anybody here?”
What went wrong:
• Sparse and old content: An account with only a few posts, and most of them outdated, is like a store with empty shelves.
• Dated content: The holiday post still at the top of the page weeks after the event is the social media equivalent of milk past its expiration date.
• Unanswered visitor posts: Questions, comments or complaints without any response announce, “We don’t care.”
• Irrelevant filler content: Reliance on “Today is national (fill-in-the-blank day)” and other filler posts can turn an account into big packaging for a tiny product.
Managing social media is a labor-intensive project: content, content and more content.
• Develop a strategy to share value, something only you can provide, with your public.
• Become a trusted source for information, entertainment, or emotional fulfillment connected to your offerings – not a reliable source for a sales pitch.
• Track what’s happening on all your social media sites.
• Determine the rules of engagement: when and how to respond to followers in the public social media space.
Don’t just generate content; build relationships and drive change
Another key word: between. Social media is unique among mass communication as a platform for interaction and conversation. The account that doesn’t invite engagement is like the self-absorbed dinner guest that doesn’t ask any questions of others. Do not just generate content; you must build vibrant relationships that grow their communities.
The final key word: strategic. Social media campaigns must be guided by a specific goal. Who are you talking to and why do they need to know what you’re saying? This is an all-hands-on-deck medium – from senior PR guidance to digital analyst… not something to be tasked to the intern in the corner.
As a business owner, CEO or corporate leader, it is your responsibility to provide your communities with strategically focused content that is relevant, shareable and inspiring. The tools are there, waiting to be used.
Ask for help.
Bridget Paverd is the Founding Partner at GillespieHall, a crisis and PR practitioner and an Instructor at The Wharton School of Business.
Clara Mattucci is Vice President of Operations at GillespieHall and, as a Behaviorist, leads the agency’s research and discovery processes.