By Adrienne Walder – 6th November 2012
I don’t consider myself to be old however when I think back to when I started out in the PR and marketing industry in the early 90s my colleagues and I didn’t own mobile phones, we didn’t have email accounts – communications were posted or faxed – and we barely knew the internet existed. Word and Powerpoint seemed positively high-tech!
Having attended the CIPR Social Media Conference this week, it is hard to believe that the way we communicate has evolved quite so much over the past two decades; and quite so rapidly and radically – with the introduction of social media – over recent years.
The CIPR Social Media Conference offered the opportunity to listen to leaders in the field discuss best practice, current trends and future predictions for the social media landscape. The day kicked off with a series of presentations around social media relations, and closed with presentations about social media measurement.
Here are the top tips from the day:
- Build a social media strategy: Once you have developed your business goals, objectives and KPIs, you are in a position to form your social media goals, objectives and KPIs. Once these have been agreed, the appropriate tools can be set in place to measure the effectiveness of the activity.
- Develop a social media policy: Social media is the responsibility of everyone within the company. Develop a clear social media policy for your organisation that everyone has access to, and provide on-going training to ensure it is understood and adhered to.
- Identify your social media spokespeople: This does not necessarily mean selecting the most technically-savvy young people in the organisation, as they may not have the knowledge or diplomacy to develop and verify appropriate content and responses. This should be a collection of experts within the organisation who are trained and mentored, and above all trusted, to represent the organisation/brand. Make sure they are prepared to be agile, collaborative and responsive.
- Develop your own social media newsroom: You no longer need to go through the media to publish content. Companies are now developing their own social media newsrooms built on content management systems enabling them to publish a variety of content – some of which would not necessarily be picked up by the media, but still has a value. Typically a social media newsroom will feature: company news (with obvious social media sharing buttons), RSS feeds, image galleries, video channels, syndicate links, tag clouds, coverage archives, background information on the company and its spokespeople, calendars of events etc. Drive the media to your social media newsroom to share, link to and publish your content. Good examples of social media newsrooms are: HSBC, First Direct, Opel Connect.
- Trust and transparency: The key to using social media most effectively is to be truthful, trustworthy and transparent. If you try to ignore or cover-up a problem or mistake, you will be found out which could potentially generate a negative backlash. One of the first examples of this is Dell Hell. If you are re-tweeting or re-posting someone else’s content, Always find the original source, always add context and, where necessary, ask permission. And remember if you mess up, ‘fess up!
- Be relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining: The key to engagement is to develop tight, relevant and simple content. Think short and shareable!
- Be visual: Keep it multi-media by sharing pictures, videos and infographics. Storify is one of the latest social media developments helping you to create visually appealing stories. It lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the web into a coherent narrative.
- Listen and engage: Encourage participation and debate and start to build and nurture your online communities. Use their conversations and feedback to shape your brand/product developments and future communications.
- Monitor: Monitor the conversations about you on social media channels and blogs. Address negative comments with the facts and truth – and an apology where required. Ignoring them will not make them go away!
- It’s not a numbers game!: The success of your social media activity cannot be measured by your number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers. Likes and Followers can be bought online! Status People allows you to examine your Twitter account for fake and inactive followers. Use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor how visitors are finding your website – social media and blogs tend to be significant traffic drivers – and drill down into how visitors interact with the content on your website. Success of your social media activity should be measured on the quality and behaviour of your visitors and how they actively or indirectly contribute to your business goals… which takes us back to point number one – build a social media strategy!
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