Social media, the ever-elusive but never exclusive opportunity, allows brands to establish a direct channel to engage and interact with their key audiences (e.g., customers, partners and employees). Yet, according to CEO.com’s 2014 Social CEO Report, nearly two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no identifiable presence on the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram). The opportunities here are endless, yet only a small group of top CEOs truly leverage these networks to their full potentials.
CEOs looking to take that plunge into social media, or ramp up their efforts, need to determine the best approach. Your activity on social media can generate a bigger impact than anything else in your marketing arsenal when properly managed and leveraged. To get started, here are the top three things you need to consider:
- Take stock. First, figure out where you are in the social media landscape. What social assets do you have? What type of presence do you have? Use the cost-effective tools available to help you better understand your position.
- Establish a baseline. Identify your starting point, and begin your experiment. Check back regularly to see your progress and adjust your strategy as needed.
- Accelerate. Once you become comfortable navigating the social channels, accelerate your strategy to create a larger impact with your audience.
When we conduct a social audit for our clients, we use several social media monitoring and measuring tools. It’s important to find tools that work for you and fit within your budget. Then utilize them regularly to measure progress so you can re-adjust and re-align your strategy, as needed. Some helpful tools include:
- Sysomos provides a simple snapshot of your overall presence on the different social channels. It has a number of different functionalities, one of which is a word cloud — a visual depiction of the frequency with which your search terms and keywords appear. The larger the keywords in the cloud, the more frequently they’re used. Creating the clouds using the same terms on a regular basis is a quick and easy way for you to see progress.
- Klout is another great tool to gauge your social authority, as well as the quality and effectiveness of your social media campaigns. It’s free and provides easy-to-understand metrics to help you build out your campaign and profile.
- Twitter Counter is a tool that measures growth and performance on Twitter. This is helpful when you want to see how well your tweets are doing, which ones get the most interaction, and how you can improve engagement.
Now that you’ve determined your presence, where do you go from here? To your audience, of course. So, where are they? Each social network offers a variety of benefits but they are all uniquely tied to the content and community they serve. For example, Facebook is great for highlighting your company’s culture but LinkedIn is a better venue to recruit talent and network professionally.
There are numerous social media channels and each is different. As a result, each should be approached differently. Make sure you understand the audience and interests for each channel and determine if it aligns with strategy. If so, develop content that addresses them appropriately. Familiarize yourself with these channels and begin to solidify your presence on each individual channel. As you do so, ensure that you have a compelling and consistent “voice” across all channels.
As with any public-facing strategy, it can be challenging to navigate the boundaries of personal versus professional online personas. A simple and clear social media policy will help your company understand the “rules of engagement” and help guide their online behavior.
Frequency is key to building your presence and social authority. If Twitter is your thing, tweet daily. Identify influencers to follow and engage with them. Tweet at them or re-tweet their observations and insert your own perspectives into the conversation. This helps to create your own voice and following. Consistency and involvement are essential to success, and will add to the quality and value of your social experience.
Maura FitzGerald is a seasoned professional of public relations and journalism. Bringing her unique blend of communications strategy and business management, Maura has successfully counseled CEOs and senior marketing leaders from some of technology’s most innovative market pioneers.