It seems everywhere you turn people are talking about social media. But a lot of the discussions are theoretical in nature or discussing future developments.
All very interesting, but businesses need to start applying this theory and implementing social media strategies to help their businesses grow now.
Here are the eight key steps you might want to consider taking to get started:
Step 1: Be clear why you're using social media as part of your communications mix
Write down the business goals and objectives for your social media strategy. What will your business achieve using social media?
Understand why you're investing your precious time and money.
Draft a social media plan, making sure everyone is aware of why you're using social media.
Step 2: Identify the resources you need to devote for success
How much time can you afford to dedicate to building your social media presence?
Who will be involved and who can help you achieve success?
Who will lead your social media strategy?
What alliances can you use to help grow your social media presence?
What tools and hardware do you need to be successful?
Step 3: What social media will you use?
Begin using social media personally before you start for your business. Observe best practice, and try out different platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to decide what's best for you and your business.
Look at what your peers and the competition are doing. Follow and learn from them.
Don't reinvent the wheel. Follow industry leaders, read a variety of blogs and build up your knowledge before you launch your business social media strategy.
Step 4: Be clear what success and failure looks like
Write down what success would look like and identify what failure would be.
Have a measurement in place to monitor this.
Set up the tools that you need to measure these (web analytics, customer feedback, staff experience etc).
Review your progress on a monthly basis. Don't be afraid to change direction and test new tactics.
Step 5: Talk to your alliances and customers
You need to identify:
what they're interested in
what they'd like to hear from you
how they'd like to communicate with you
how often they want to hear from you
what bores them
Step 6: Remember social media is not a standalone tactic
Create an integrated communications plan for your business, with social media as one element.
Be clear how your social media presence will complement your other communications tactics.
Step 7: Have something to say
In social media what you say is just as important as how you say it.
Decide how best to promote your experience, empathy and expertise.
Don't be afraid to promote content from other experts to your clients, but always acknowledge them.
Have a plan of activity.
Be topical, and have a frequent engagement.
Step 8: Don't be afraid to change
We're in the midst of the second industrial revolution, and the pace of technological change is rapid. Clients and future customers will adopt a variety of social media platforms. Always monitor their behaviours, and if trends are evolving, make sure you're aware of them and change your strategy accordingly.
John Joe McGinley
Head of Business Brain, Aegon