Guest post by Location3 Media
You may not have the massive marketing budgets of Fortune 100 brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their efforts. Following are six things you can glean from behemoth brands and apply to your social media efforts on a smaller scale.
Don’t Stray from Your Brand Voice
Social media conversations are informal. Any brand that wants to engage with customers via social media needs to be slightly colloquial, but they should not modify their language so much that it strays from their brand voice.
Take GE for example. They post compelling and entertaining messages, but maintain a high level of intelligence and nerdiness. They do not use emoticons and abuse exclamations just because the medium is Tumblr or Facebook, not a scientific journal.
Only Commit to What you Can Handle
Near innumerable social media networks exist, and new ones are seemingly launched every day. You could have five full time staff members handling social if you listened to the advice of every “social media guru” and actively managed a profile on each channel.
Rather than stretch yourself thin, and waste valuable time and money, pick the social media networks that make sense for your company. Understand where your customers are, and then go there. A few well planned and active channels are better than numerous neglected ones. If you can only commit to managing a Facebook page, no problem. Just commit to making it the best experience possible — your customers and brand will be better for it.
Look to Charmin for inspiration. They focus on Facebook and Twitter, allowing them to create deeper and more interesting connections with customers on these channels.
Be Nimble but Be Smart
The social media world is fast paced. To reside in this world and provide the best customer experience, you need to move at the same clip. But don’t sacrifice good decisions for a quick turnaround. Use common sense and past experiences (both within social media and general business matters) to help guide your decisions down the right path. Take the time, especially if you are just getting into social media, to understand and weigh the consquences of your actions before Liking a single post or tweeting even one charater.Oreo’s clever tweet from this past Super Bowl is example of being nimble yet smart. When the lights went out at the game, Oreo tweeted a simple image of a single spotlighted cookie surrounded by darkness, with the message “You can still dunk in the dark.” Due to the quickness and simplicity of the tweet, you might think it was the work of a single person. In reality, 13 people contributed to that tweet. The company had vowed to do something in social media every day and had been strategizing for months, determining what was most meaningful to their followers. While they could never have predicted the power outage at the Super Bowl and thus written the copy before, Oreo had the experience and infrastructure in place to be sponteous yet shrewd.
Listen and Learn
Social media provides a unique opportunity to gather customer feedback quickly, efficiently and sometimes even covertly, allowing you to identify customer support needs and engagement opportunities, and provide invaluable insights into overall business situations. By actively seeking feedback and monitoring online conversations, you can reduce negative chatter, prevent loss of new business, enhance customer experience, improve company polices, enhance other PR and marketing initiatives, obtain competitive intelligence, conduct product and service R&D and even prevent lawsuits. All without spending more than the time it takes to gather this information.
You will obviously want to monitor your own social media channels, but also keep an ear out for conversations occurring on channels that they may not be actively managing, on blogs and news sites, on customer review channels and photos and video sites.
Starbucks is the preeminent example on gathering and acting on customer feedback. Through My Starbucks Idea, they provided a forum for customers to submit ideas regarding products, in-store and online experiences and community involvement. Starbucks evaluates each idea that has been submitted and has launched several ideas (277 as of March 2013, in fact), the most famous including: Free Wi-fi at all locations, splash sticks, Frappuccino happy hour and cake pops.
But Don’t Let Your Customers Run Your Business
If you added every product, feature or service that was suggested by customers, you would be constantly pulled in different directions and never provide a truly valuable experience for consumers. It’s important to listen and make changes, but only those that are aligned with your business objectives, improve the customer experience and/or are plausible changes.
Caribou Coffee’s announcement that they will be closing several underperforming stores created a major backlash on Facebook from customers and employees alike earlier this year. Caribou could have used the pleas to stay open as justification for baulking on their decision and keeping the stores open. However, they were resolute in their decision as they look to ‘best position the company for long-term growth.’
Measure & Optimize
Measure the performance of your social media efforts and make changes based on that data. But you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to license and hundreds of hours to learn software programs. Tons of free tools exist that are extremely user friendly and intuitive to learn. Each of the main social channels offer some level of analytics reporting at no cost. Some other tools and technologies I recommend are Google Analytics (website social referrals), HootSuite (manage and measure all major social channels, especially Twitter), Social Mention (monitoring and alerts) and Statigram (Instagram analytics).
Consider Sony’s social media efforts at SXSW 2012. Sony developed specific social media campaigns with live events and a Twitter contests to engage SXSW attendees and increase awareness of the Sony Tablet. Using Adobe Social, they were able to track all social media activity during SXSW for their brand, and learn new things about customers that they did not know before, which has helped them change the way they do business. They saw a 200% increase in conversations about the Sony Tablet and expanded social media audience by 122% from the SXSW campaigns.
Are you using any of these big-brand methods to improve your social media? Share your experiences in the comments.
Patrick Q via photopin cc
About the Author
Angie Pascale is the social media director at Location3 Media, providing strategic direction for social media and content marketing campaigns for enterprise and multi-unit retail clients. Follow Angie at @angiepascale or connect on Google+.