Successful social media communities require strong leadership behind a careful, organized strategy. If you’ve decided to invest in a social media consultant, analyst, strategist, or anyone else with the word “social media” in their title, keep in mind these thoughts as you move forward with executing your plan.
Educate your internal decision makers
Social media managers can not operate in a silo. One of the biggest challenges for any company entering the social media realms is to educate the decision makers about the dynamics of culture that surround social media communities. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, all have unique online cultures, some overlapping, that require keen understanding and strategy. Before that first tweet, bring together your decision makers in marketing, sales, customer service and yes even front line operations, and have a conversation with them about your intended goals. Brainstorm with them for ideas on engagement, and what you hope to build by using social media. Decide what is realistic, and what will be required to succeed.
Understand your audience
You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Know who you want to connect with, where they are, and what they look like. Age, sex, location, scale, interests, focus, all impact your success. It doesn’t pay to have a huge following of social media analysts if you’re trying to sell shoes, or encourage support for a foundation. Look for your intended audience and start engaging there. This isn’t to say that social media analysts don’t occasionally buy shoes, but you get my point.
Decide who will be responsible for the daily postings and interactions. Remember that this individual’s personality will largely determine your company’s overall voice, so choose carefully. Qualities that make for a successful community manager include a desire to be helpful, credibility, the ability to be brief and concise, creativity, a sense of humor, fearlessness, and a strong background in business.
Provide the necessary authority
Once your strategy is in place and you’ve chosen your community manager, give them the authority to get the answers they need quickly. Nothing can bring down a good community faster than a lack of response to sincere questions and concerns. Without the authority to respond quickly, or without cooperation from the entire organization, the community manager is left hanging. Remember, this is your company’s voice and a customer facing portal. Make sure your manager has the support he or she needs to keep that voice in relationship with your brand.
Lose the Fear
Please don’t restrict your community manager to conversations only about your brand. Who likes to converse with someone that talks about themselves incessantly? Yes, your social media accounts exist to build brand awareness, build sales, and develop leads and support around your brand; however, remember that people engage in an activity because something is in it for them, so make sure you’re providing something of value to your fans. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down a little bit. Reach out and see what you, through your social media pages, can offer your followers. What do they care about? How can you provide that to them? Don’t be afraid of looking vulnerable or a little silly. This isn’t traditional marketing, this is a conversation.
Don’t count, measure
Don’t judge your social media manager by the number of followers they bring in. Stop obsessing about your Klout score and instead, check click through rates, referred traffic and the quality of engagement on your pages. Who are your followers? Do you have a strong core group of fans and followers that reflect the type of community you’re trying to build? Are they interacting? That’s what counts. If you place emphasis on numbers you’re incentivizing your community manager to focus on the wrong target.
What are you looking for in a social media manager? I’d love to know your thoughts. Share them here with me or on Twitter @suereynolds or Facebook .