How To Make An Impact With Social Media (And Avoid Disaster)

anthony weiner

Photo: AP

This article originally appeared at American Express OpenForumSimply put, social media needs to be built into marketing and consumer engagement pushes, and has to be part of any successful company’s future plans. But to catch up and truly capitalise on the craze, you need a strategy.

In a recent Smartblog on Social Media poll, more than 77 per cent of respondents reported their companies don’t have any sort of formalized social media training process, while fewer than 20 per cent said they did.

Charging employees with contributing content on social media platforms without addressing a few important considerations could waste a lot of time — and tweets.

Here are some ways to make sure you, and your workers, are smart about social media:

1. familiarise employees with the basics

Obvious? Yes. But it’s the most important. This goes beyond directing employees to various social media sites or giving brief overviews of each. Instead, you should share your understanding of social media’s functions, in general and specific to the platforms you’re using. Make sure everyone has the same expertise, perhaps through a tutorial, and is prepared to use the sites.

2. Set the tone

Consistency is crucial when it comes to the messages you transmit to the public. If you have multiple people posting to Twitter or Facebook accounts, your followers and fans shouldn’t be able to tell. Decide on a tone for your content and make sure each person with access to your social media accounts knows how to cultivate that standard voice. Also make sure to set parameters for what can be shared—if you want to keep it serious, be serious about banning funny links. If you’d like to keep it fun and light, make sure your employees know how to write with flair.

3. Know ways to maximise your impact

Social media is more than logging into your account and posting. There are ways to expand your reach and widen your audience, giving you a chance to boost business using free online tools—and who can complain about that? There are analytics programs you can integrate to your efforts, but for now, let’s stay simple. Use hashtags—the words and phrases you see on Twitter with a pound sign ahead of them. Your tweets will appear in feeds alongside the other tweets with that hashtag. It’s a great way to reach people who follow news in your industry, for example #marketing or #smallbusiness. Also, don’t be shy about interacting with other users. If there are businesses you’d like to partner or share strategies with, find them and engage. The same doubly goes for consumers and clients. The bottom line: Make your presence known.

4. Discuss social media disasters

From Weinergate to Aflac, Twitter has brought both companies and individuals down a few notches. Remember that social media packs a punch—misusing it can erode the public’s confidence in your company and their perception of who you are. Even though you might think it could never happen to you, it’s important your employees understand the power they wield with social media, and why it’s vital to stay appropriate online. Also make sure your employees know how to respond in case of a PR disaster or other snafu, when your customers will be counting on social media for updates.

5. Develop protocol

Know who’s in charge of posting what, and when. It’s the surest way to prevent double-posts and maintain streamlined professionalism in the Twittersphere and on Facebook. Maybe you divide posting duties by day or topic, but whatever the method, make sure everyone is clued in and understands.

Now find out what it’ll take to become the Internet’s next big thing >

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