For businesses that are considering plunging into the world of social media, there’s an abundance of reading – both good and bad – on what is, why to use it, when to use it, which tools to use, etc. While this required reading may provide some marketers with the confidence to take a deep dive into the world of social media, I believe a more prudent approach is to dip one toe at a time into the very murky waters.
One client has taken this ‘toe tip test’ approach, and I’m convinced that although it may take longer to get them where they ultimately want to be, it will help ensure success in the long run.
Here’s a run-down of the steps this client has taken:
SEO: Before even considering social media, the company immersed themselves in the world of SEO by taking the time to learn and understand what it is and how it could benefit them. Much time was spent fine-tuning the keywords and phrases used on their web site, in marketing materials, press releases, etc. to ensure the language they are using is relevant for the audience they are targeting. While SEO continues to be a work in progress, an increase in visitors to their site in recent months illustrates that their effort is paying off. My client knows that the time spent on SEO will serve them well when they are ready to engage in social media.
Twitter: A few marketing folks signed up for Twitter. After some basic coaching from yours truly, tweeting is in progress – although on a personal level (i.e. no corporate Twitter account is being used just yet). By going this route, these smart marketers can get a sense for what is involved without negatively impacting their brand. In the same way as corporations should only begin blogging if they can make a long term commitment to writing posts on a regular basis (yes I know, I should practice what I preach!), I believe that any business that decides to get onto the Twitter bandwagon, should do so with caution and make sure it’s the right engagement tool. Beginning at the personal level allows my clients to get a feel for Twitter before diving in head first.
Wikipedia: My client is entrenched in a very technical and complex market space. To ensure others understand the innovative approaches it is recommending, a decision was made to put together a Wikipedia entry. Since Wikipedia is an often-used source by the companies it is targeting, the first Wikipedia entry my client developed highlights the problem that Fortune 500 companies are facing; details the options that are available for solving these issues; and provides alternatives (including those offered by my cleint). Rather than focusing subjectively on their company, my clients have positioned themselves as a player and thought leader in this particular category.
Social Media Intern: My client just hired a social media intern for the summer. By far, I think that this is one of the smartest moves they’ve made. The intern is responsible for monitoring, tracking and (where appropriate) contributing to conversations that are relevant to the company. By taking this approach, the intern can get a sense for whether or not my client’s competitors, partners and customers are entrenched in social media; and if they are, to what degree, and using which platforms or tools. This real-world insight will be invaluable in helping them devise a social media strategy that is not only aligned to corporate objectives, but also geared towards their particular business and the market they are in.
While other companies may not have the resources to hire an intern, they should at the very least sign up for a social media monitoring service (e.g. Sysomos, Scout Labs or Radian 6 or perhaps use some of the free tools that are available) so they can guage whether a deep dive into the world of social media even makes sense. Unfortunately, too many companies only begin monitoring after they’ve begun engaging in social media.
The way I see it, the toe tip test that my client embraced provides ample opportunity to explore what social media is all about, and make informed decisions about which strategies are the best to implement.
~Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)