With words like tweet, blog, unfriend, and engage becoming part of our everyday verbal communications, it seems obvious that social media is mainstream. There are currently over 2 billion users on Facebook. So, with all this seeming so common why is it still such an ongoing task to communicate the social media message to our clients? My company continues to move away from print mediums as we increase the digital mediums. As the 2018 budget season begins, we start to reevaluate the previous year to get a better understanding of where we are and where we are going. As we review the spreadsheets I fear the increased numbers may be met with some resistance from clients who are still challenged in their understanding of the new media. We have several clients who have threatened to discontinue the use of social media to return to the traditional ways of advertising. The fear of change has them stuck.
As I started reviewing why we use social media I wrote down the first 7 things that came to mind:
1. Track & Measure: Social media is a tool to measure your success and understand the chatter online about the brand you are promoting. With tools like Mention and Quantcast you can measure how many times your brand was mentioned, shared, and viewed. This is a wonderful way to measure your advertising and understand firsthand what others are thinking so you can adjust your program or product. Our client base is shopping centers, so this allows our clients to see how they measure up with leasing, service, events and food.
2. Write a Killer Plan with Goals: A good social media plan will provide goals that can be achieved over a period; by knowing what our clients’ needs are, we are able to write a plan to succeed with ongoing social media reinforcements. We can provide advertising for individual stores, announce new store openings, etc. With each post we have flexibility to change the target audience to reach the correct demographics and obtain more success. No longer do we have to wait until a campaign is over to track results; we can continuously track to make each advertising dollar spent the most efficient and effective. So, stay open and keep your eye on the daily statistics and make a shift in order to stay on track.
3. Start Small: We suggest our clients start out with a simple program to provide evidence of social media’s power. Often, I have heard clients say, “I’m just not convinced”. They try to talk me out of putting more money in the budget to build their online reputation and brand. It is frustrating, as I know it works. We suggest our clients start with a small Facebook budget that can be put toward boosting quality posts, and see how that works, then we can move into ad placements and event calendars. Once your brand takes off CMA will generally add Instagram and see where to go from there. With the proper content, the rest will follow. We may even suggest that someday you have your own YouTube channel with your videos and commercials posted, but to begin, you’ll want to start simple.
4. Set Your Strategy and Stay the Course: A social media marketing campaign can appear strange and different, even to those who have plenty of marketing experience. If you don’t have a clear strategy for implementation and execution, reactions to your plan will be understandably skeptical. Take time to explain each step of the plan, describe why it’s being done and how it will benefit the company. Managing social media is a full-time job. It is worse to begin a program, stop and then start the entire process over, as you will likely lose your voice and audience.
5. Lurk the Competition: The best advice I received when beginning my journey into social media was from a consultant that said take your time before you launch a social media program. Make certain you review all your competition and if possible, call them or meet in person to ask the proper questions. I did exactly what she suggested and it saved a lot of time and embarrassment. I was shocked at how most people really want to help and support. I would call and tell them what an excellent job they were doing with their sites, then I would be quiet and listen. They told me everything I wanted to know without me probing. They also advised me on things not to post and how to balance posts with emotion, sales pitch, and community. You need to find the perfect voice and tone for posts. Lurking takes patience and time so make sure you sit at night with a glass of wine or cup of coffee/tea and surf for hours at a time to retain as much information on your competition as possible to learn how to do it better.
6. Anticipate Questions & Feedback: The most challenging part of my job is convincing clients to stay the course and believe in the process. Many of my clients don’t use social media, so they don’t see what we are producing on a weekly basis. They don’t understand the new media math so our reports are useless to them. Many of our clients are fearful that someone will say something negative about their shopping center or one of their tenants and it will spin out of control. But studies show that when companies engage with customer complaints and criticisms, they end up looking better than before. I call it the “Go Go”, Get it Out…Get it Over. Instead of hiding, why not tell your side of the story? Most people just want to complain…if they get an answer online everyone has the chance to view both sides.
7. Read the Room: So much of the social media experience is about your individual audience and niche. What works for one client doesn’t necessarily work for all of them. So we need to always be checking for amazing content, ideal frequency, perfect timing, and great photography.
So remember Gurus… patience, lurking & tone will help you find your voice…Stay the course and stop fearing the inevitable 👍