Social media has never been so prevalent. Everywhere we turn, we see the constant reference to social media. So it's little surprise that an understanding to social media is a must for every type of organisation and the key element to success is content - targeted and constant.

It's all about your knowledge and experience in an industry and simply providing information. But social media is no different to traditional marketing and communications activities and getting back to basics will help ensure your organisation maximises its social media presence.

The following 5 tips will help you maximise your social media presence.

1. Know your audiences

The old rules of marketing planning still apply about knowing who you want to communicate at the same time as giving you greater reach. Be sure to:

  • Know your audience - What segmentation are you talking to and who are you targeting? Identifying the stakeholders in your business environment and understanding what they want to hear from you will ensure that not only your social media presence is successful but also help across your entire marketing communications.
  • Reach more audiences - Social media can help you tap into audiences which previously were at a great distance away; you can monitor activity or become part of the community.

For example, in the B2B arena LinkedIn Groups is a great way of either forming a community around one of your audiences or understanding an audience which previously your organisation has had little experience with. Such knowledge can be used to develop your communications and target with greater sophistication.

2. Plan your content

Planning your content across a period of time can save a great deal of time and resource. Consider some of the following simple steps:

Create a theme or subject
Instead of writing copy or developing communications for one marketing activity, why not create a theme or subject which can be used across a multitude of media? Traditional communications activities and promotions can also be integrated into the social media presence - it's simply another way of getting a targeted message to your audience.

For example, if you're a software manufacturer targeting the educational sector you may want to create communications around the seasonal time of September - the return to school/college/university. Instead of planning communications in isolation why not plan a month's content around the return? What do the establishments need to think about in the run up to return, during the return and post return?
Collect a content library
Content is definitely the hardest component of social media presence. It's a constant, ongoing demand on an organisation's resource so having ‘timeless' content or snippets of content to hand can fill in those gaps of information.
Publish 3rd party material
Contact other parties to publish their materials. The web is all about collaboration and sharing - gone are the days of shielding content to/from the outside.

3. Use readily available tools

Use one or more of the freely available social media tools. There are many, many tools and applications that make using social media a great deal easier. Such tools help you to:

  • Ensure your content is coordinated and give your marketing communications an integrated approach
  • Measure effectiveness and monitor your presence (instant notification of your organisation being discussed on social media opens your eyes to a whole new intelligence gathering mechanism)

So social media is a great platform for measuring and monitoring but what exactly are you looking to measure and monitor?

Don't measure and monitor for the sake of it. Make it meaningful to your business or your campaign objective. For example, do you want to get a certain amount of followers on Twitter? If so, make it in for a particular audience instead of across the board.

4. Don't use in isolation

Be sure to integrate social media with your other marketing & PR activity. Your social media presence is a bit like your own TV channel or billboard, but instant. It goes out to a mass audience straightaway and often on a personal 1-2-1 level. For those used to a B2B market this can, in some cases, be daunting and difficult to comprehend. Don't forget to:

  • Plan your social media inline with your marketing and PR activity. When one campaign or activity is planned this should be combined with social media as it lends itself perfectly to integrated communications.
  • Make sure your communications across your other marketing activities and media match your social media or are the same.
  • Use the freely available social media tools. The tools available also aid integration. One tool for diffusing your communications across a multitude of platforms. How cool is that? Yes, but also how dangerous is that? It needs thought, planning and resource. Watching some companies hand over their social media presence without a clear strategy or thought is certainly an eye opener.

One example is a printing company who was looking to build a positive profile with local companies. They handed over their Twitter account to a local a marketing company who have been regularly tweeting about the economic problems for struggling print companies. The most recent tweet being 'report reveals print as fourth hardest hit by insolvencies'. What a positive picture that paints of the company to prospective and established clients!?

5. Don't forget its 2-way

Communications is about 2-way conversation. Social media is a great platform for your organisation to actively engage in 2-way communication with targeted audiences. Asda is doing precisely that with Mumsnet allowing the community to have a say over some of its products.

As an organisation you need to give some thought to the reaction, monitoring and control aspect of social media. It's not a case of you simply broadcasting communications with no come back. Instead it's like having your own TV channel where viewers are going to talk back and you and possibly the rest of the audience is going to hear what they say.

Conclusion

The old saying of Knowledge is Power is changing. Clients, prospects and stakeholders are looking to see your expertise. It's no longer enough to know you have the knowledge... The actual demonstration of your knowledge is power. And that's social media in a nutshell.

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