Like every other area of technology, social media continues to evolve on an almost permanent basis. In a post-GDPR and post Cambridge Analytica world, where algorithms completely govern what users see online and uber-influencers control the purchasing decisions of millions, the time has come to construct a proper strategy to engage fully with both your customers and your staff.
Years ago, in a pre-digital age, a marketing or PR team would manage a company’s brand profile. While word of mouth was important amongst customers, none of them had the platforms to communicate positive or negative messages very far. Nor in fact could their staff.
In today’s predominantly digital world, any organisation’s brand is a complex jigsaw made up of potential contributions from the sales and marketing team, suppliers, customers and of course employees. Together they then make up your overall digital footprint.
So how can you harness the power of these stakeholders or at the very least, minimise the risk of them damaging your brand?
The first step is to have a proper digital business plan for your company. This is not a marketing, sales, PR, or social media plan but one which looks at almost all areas of your business including HR, recruitment, internal communications, IT, and even governance. You’re planning for a future in a predominantly digital world, so you need to adjust how you run your company.
This plan also needs to look at your staff and customer needs today and five, ten15, years into the future. Plus, you must put together really comprehensive, proactive social media guidelines for both your staff and even your suppliers.
Closely linked to having a proper business plan is a thorough examination of your company’s corporate culture. Are you inspiring real creative energy, are you looking to innovate your offering, do you have a leadership team who ‘get’ social media, do you encourage your staff to come up with new ideas and do you really listen to what your customers are saying?
Content has always been king, and never more so than in a multi-channel, multimedia world which requires huge volumes of articles, images, videos and now filters, emojis and games.
The trick is to understand where to source the content. Fortunately, there are four different sources: 1) internally, 2) externally, 3) your customers with User Generated Content, and 4) your own staff with Employee Generated Content. Together, they should ensure you always have interesting and engaging content to fill not only your digital channels but also your traditional and internal ones too.
Content is nothing without community. As many staff as possible within companies now need to be at least willing to be proactive on social media – whether they are customer-facing or not. This is where you need to harness the power of your internal brand ambassadors.
The more you can get your staff and your customers to engage with the content you are creating, the higher your brand visibility will be on almost all the channels. Of course, this can then be amplified by using targeted advertising on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to reach the widest possible audiences.
The final piece of the strategy is to harness the data to build your business for the future. Monitor the conversations, the trends, the engagement with your posts, track the performance of your website, your insights. Also, in this post GDPR world, make sure your CRM system is constantly updated and you’re looking to migrate away from email lists to more proactive social data.
While none of this is simple and does require a major shift in the way that businesses need to be run, the good news is that it doesn’t necessarily require a large budget. It’s about being digitally-adaptive so your company can thrive today and well into the future.