Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in psychology, there are various levels in social media that are becoming galvanized within the discipline. Therefore, we’ve outlined each, starting from the bottom and working our way to the top. While this document is a generalization, we know that each client has specific needs and we can work with you to create customized solutions to meet them.
1.) Chosen social channels: There are tons of social channels at your disposal…not all of which will apply to your company. The ‘trinity’ of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is probably where you want to start. However, as you grow, you might want to leverage mobile, location-based initiatives, live events and specific niche networks as well. Start slow. You don’t want to invest too much time in a channel that is not reaching your customers or that you cannot maintain in the long run. And, once you choose a new channel, take the time to nurture and maximize its growth.
2.) Social procedures: The importance of understanding “who, what, when, why & how often” will vary based on the business you’re in. Nevertheless, it’s important to know how to speak with your customer, extend your brand and manage expectations, not only in your messaging but within your social media vehicles. The way you react via these networks is critical and therefore responsibilities should be prioritized and communicated. Having ongoing training and defined procedures in place will not only prepare your staff to successfully and consistently engage your audience, but provide you with metrics to measure their success.
3.) Crisis Management: Listening to your customer base is key to all crisis management. You MUST have basic ‘listening tools’ that allow you to monitor what is being said about your brand, products and any defined messaging that might be in place such as a campaign or press release. These tools will empower you to judge the ‘risk threshold’ of a user, gauge the mass opinion (many opinions often coming in rapid succession) and allow you to determine an immediate course of action. Having those aforementioned procedures in place will allow your staff to act appropriately and in compliance with your brand guidelines given any situation, positive or negative, that should arise. Also, interview your staff, customers and followers about “what if” and create a plan appropriately around it. Once it’s in market, ride it out remembering that negative press is just as hard to kill as positive is to obtain. It will take time but ultimately you’ll find your happy place.
4.) Brand Equity & Retention: Once you begin to establish an audience, it’s all about consistency and community. Much like being at a large table of friends, you don’t want to talk too much or too little. Therefore, you establish and retain your voice which ultimately builds brand equity within the community and grants your brand loyalists a safe and fertile ground for conversation.
5.) Monitored: Self-sustaining loyalty: Much like that of Maslow’s ‘self-actualization,’ the final crescendo of the collective is the hardest, of course, and takes the longest to obtain. Think of it like raising children, you would not leave them unattended until you feel that there is a wealth of practical application, understanding and structure in place. As your community grows, so does its familiarity with your brand; therefore they will ask and expect more from it. No matter what, it’s your job to steer the conversation. Once your social reach has become synonymous with your brand, it will increase its value ten fold.
While these steps may require a great deal of time and effort, the payoff is worth every resource you can dedicate. Remember, success depends upon finding and hiring the right people, providing effective training, listening to your audience, and securing the cutting-edge agency that will help you reach your goals through partnership and direction. Social marketing changes at the speed of light, and business, so choose wisely and success will be yours.