Looking to implement social media in 2011?

Social media is all around us.  Over 600 million people of all ages are now engaged on social media sites.  Just take a look at the video “social media revolution 2” on YouTube.  In the course of 2010, companies have realized that these channels represent a great way to reach out and engage customers.

Joining social media as a company might seem easy and is started with a lot of enthusiasm.  However, success does not lie around the corner.  The initial drive to create necessary profiles and posts leads to worries about lack of success, large investments in time and hard to measure Return-On-Investment.

So, before you start, it is always a good idea to stop and think about the following items:

  • Awareness of social media: How well do you understand what social media really is?  What different platforms are there out there and what are they used for?  Which ones do you pick to be active on?

TIP: A great start is to get a good overview by reading up on the subject or even better calling on a specialist who can show you the way.

  • Strategy:  Social media is not a channel that stands by itself nor is it the exclusive territory of marketing.  HR, R&D and customer services can also benefit from it.  Social Media is an addition to what your company already does to reach it targets.

TIP: Find out if and where your customers are on social media and think about how to engage them – make it part of the questions in your annual customer satisfaction survey.

  • Inventorize: Since so many people, including your own employees, are already using social media it might be a good idea to get a sense of where they are active and/or talk about your company.

TIP: The simplest way to do this is by going on the platforms and typing in your company name.

  • Social media policy: Before you can really get going, it makes a lot of sense to create a social media policy or guidelines to help people protect their and your reputation online.

TIP: This policy should address items such as identity, time usages, company affiliation, handing negative comments, etc.

  • Training:  This is one of the most forgotten but highly effective items in the whole process.  It can set you up for possible disasters – Not knowing the consequences of what you are doing or getting into can lead making simple mistakes with big reputation loss.

TIP: Create a customized training to will help your employees do their jobs using social media.

  • Getting started:  Here the simple rule applies that you can not bite off more than you can chew.

TIP: Create a few profiles first (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) and add more as you go along.  Create both personal and company profiles and make the as complete as possible.

One final piece of advice is to start Monitoring.  Whether you are active or not, you should monitor what is being said about you.  TIP: Using free tools such Google alerts or http://www.socialmention.com are 2 great ways to start.  Paying platforms start at 100€ (www.Tracebuzz.com or  www.engagor.com) and provide better and more complete.

Companies can no longer wait to join social media on the basis that people are talking about them.  So it is better to join the conversation and engage the customers.

Mic Adam

Vanguard Leadership

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