Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru
Social Media is the new age branding tool to connect with your customers in present times. It has, undoubtedly, become the most powerful marketing platform that corporations are turning to. But, like every good strategy, there has to be a certain approach; you cannot jump into it and hope to derive the many benefits without having a plan in place. In simpler words, your every action on social media should be part of the bigger marketing and customer engagement strategy that is well aligned with your overarching Customer Experience goals.
Because of the number of people connected through social media, it has become the new ‘screaming something over the microphone’, which really makes it a double-edged sword! While on one hand, complaints travel across boundaries in a matter of nanoseconds, on the other, companies can reach a disgruntled customer in a matter of seconds. In an effort to ensure that they are not at the receiving end of the complaints, companies are doing all they can to beef up their social media response teams. The social-media analytics firm Simply Measured claims that the number of top brands with dedicated customer service [Twitter] handles has increased by 19% year-over-year.
So, where and how do you start?
To build a concrete social media customer engagement strategy, you must first be clear with the objectives of the plan. The concepts that need to be addressed beforehand are: where the company stands as on today, where you would like to see it going and what tools you would be using in getting there.
Try to be as specific as possible with your goals; this helps in having an effectual implementation. The plan you put in place will eventually guide your actions and help you measure the success rate at which you are achieving them.
Once you have established this, the following five essential steps would assist in building a successful social media customer engagement strategy:
First thing, you will have to choose the right channel to connect with your customers. There are a multitude of options out there. You don’t have to use all of them – use just the ones that matter to the company and the customer. Check on your consumer base, understand which channel they will use most and ensure your presence there is felt.
You must ensure that your company profile is clear, concise and complete. This shows the level of professionalism and the seriousness associated with the business.
Next is to put numbers to your plan. It is necessary to have achievable weekly or monthly targets; for example in the first month of the launch, you could aim for a target of 1000 subscribers by posting creative photos of your company culture. Be sure to have S.M.A.R.T (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Relevant-Time bound) goals. This will help you create realistic goals that can be tracked over a period of time.
The next thing you need to do is create a content plan. With respect to the content that you post, quality and novelty coupled with consistency are most important. The content has to vary and can be evenly placed with a particular strategy, for example each day of the week can correspond to a post.
Get as innovative as possible! Blogs, videos, images, infographics, video blogs – mix all of these as well as you can!
Analysing the strategies of your competitors or companies that you take inspiration from will greatly benefit you. As the customer base for you and your competitors is the same, understanding what they do will help you improvise and fine-tune your plans. Isn’t it said that you don’t have the time to make all the mistakes yourself, so you must learn from others’.
Only building a plan is never enough. Equally important are adhering to the plan and tracking your progress regularly.
The only thing constant is change. Customers’ needs and priorities change and you must ensure that you change accordingly. If you don’t, you will become obsolete. You must incorporate innovative ideas constantly into your strategy. For example, if your goals have become attainable, then you need to set new goals. You must record and analyze your successes and failures and make adjustments accordingly. As business grows, you might have to introduce new roles and create different strategies for new branches and countries. Change is inevitable, so you must be proactive, prepared and flexible.
Are there any other pointers you’d like to add to this list? Do let us know!
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