Social Media Guiding Principles (Part 2 of 3)

Part two of my 3-part series on the basics of social media focuses on guiding principles. Sometimes we have to make the hard choices or say the things that clients don’t want to hear.

“No, you shouldn’t do a Facebook page because you are not willing to commit appropriate resources.”

“No, you shouldn’t be on SnapChat because everyone else is.”

The guiding principles below are those things that should guide our work with clients and drive our recommendations when it comes to social media planning. However, often they get forgotten or overlooked.

Know your social media pole position (of influence). The term, pole position, comes from motorsports and refers to the car sitting the lead position. Google defines it as “a leading or dominant position”. For social media, this means understanding why consumers would want to come to you for information or resources. What puts you in a leadership position in your industry? And this isn’t going to be the same for every brand, organization or campaign. You need to figure out the “Why me?” and then have the answer to that question drive your content and engagement strategies.

Humanize your brand. Remember social media is “social”. As such, think about the personality attributes of your brand. Social media requires dialogue and response so how will you talk with your customers? How will you address conflict? How will you handle criticism? How will you handle compliments? All of these are connected to your brand’s voice but this becomes exacerbated in social media because of the multidirectional nature of the medium.

Commit & organize. Assigning resources to social media is critical for success. Many companies assign a junior level person, or an intern or a part time person to do social media for their organization or project. Unfortunately, while this may seem like a budget-friendly approach, it won’t lead to success in the long run. Social media is 24-7 and as such appropriate resources need to be allocated to support a venture into social media. As well, just because a more junior person may use social media frequently doesn’t mean that they are properly equipped to manage social media on behalf of your brand or company. Consider social media as an extension of your public persona and as such ensure that it has the senior level leadership and guidance that any other marketing channel would require.

Remember “relationships 101”. Think about the first time you went out with you partner. Would you have gone out on a second date with that person if he/she had only talked about themselves? Perhaps, but more than likely, no. This is the same in social media. It’s not about you, it’s about a dialogue. You earn the right to talk about yourself. Don’t shout, listen. So sit back, order another cocktail and enjoy the relationship.

Understand managed vs. paid. It used to come as a big surprise to folks when I would share that not all of social media is organic; rather, there are paid mechanisms for gaining fans, raising content visibility, promoting messages and/or products. Now this is more common knowledge. Regardless of whether you regularly buy social ads or this is new information for you, keep in mind that social media is just that – media – and as such there are both paid and earned opportunities. These can complement each other but also create competition among brands. The playing field may be more level than broadcast advertising but it is not entirely even.

Fully utilize your assets. Social media extends the value of your assets. What I mean by that is you probably have a lot of content already – presentations, white papers, videos, audio clips, images, key points, data, graphs/charts, etc. – and before you set out to create all new social media content, look through your coffers to see what is already in existence that can be re-purposed, unpacked, repackaged for use in social media. This helps to extend the value of what you have already invested into the development of that content. Additionally, look for that content that you created but never used. For instance, outtakes for that promo video you created, the pieces of an interview that got left on the cutting room floor, or behind the scenes footage from a photo shoot. All of this unused, untapped, unseen content is currency in social media and gives your following something special that no one else has seen. What a better way to say, “thank you!” for being a member of our community.

Compulsively seek snowballs. It is most often the case that anyone that says that they can make a viral video does not know what they are talking about. Unless you have a number of key variables like celebrity or humor, it can really be hard to make your piece of content stand out from the pack. Having said that, though, there are levers that can be pulled to raise the visibility of a piece of content – paid media, leverage influencers, mix your communication methods by including traditional PR with your original social media content, etc. Look for these “snowballs” and try and get your content integrated into them.

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