Month: December, 2011

Can Brands Take A Holiday From Social Media?

Digital Strategy, Social Media4 Comments

As a social media strategist, I often preach the importance of consistency. After all, how can you hope to build a relationship with your audience if you hardly ever post or disappear for days or weeks?

But with many businesses about to shutdown for the year (if they haven’t already), it begs the questions: can brands take a holiday from social media?

The short answer is yes, but with a few caveats:

  1. Set expectations early
    Let your followers know in advance that you will be closed so that they have time to ask any burning questions before you leave. You can even schedule a few posts over the holidays – e.g. “Happy New Year!” – with a note letting people know when you’re back. People are generally understanding, and don’t expect you to be on call 24hrs unless of course that’s your business.
  2. Check in periodically
    It’s advisable to log in every now and then (daily, if possible)  if  to check the pulse of your community. In an era where an issue can flare up on social media in the blink of an eye, you must still be vigilant. Consider turning on notifications and giving them a cursory once over. Mentally file what isn’t critical and time sensitive as “to do later” and investigate any potential issues straight away.
  3. Have a crisis management plan
    If something does go wrong, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to deal with it. Nominate someone with the requisite knowledge and experience to deal with an emergency as the primary contact on social media. You DO NOT want a Nestle on your hands and you can’t afford to leave it until you come back.
  4. Do as your business does
    If your workplace shuts down, it’s much easier to take a break from your regular posting schedule. But if you work somewhere like retail which remains open throughout or where your customers may need to contact you urgently, then it’s important that you are also present. Going back to the issue of consistency, you need to be there when your customers need you, not just when you want to be.But most importantly…
  5. Keep your ears open
    One of the side effects of our rapidly growing connectivity is that the line between personal and private time is now more blurred than ever. In this always on environment, companies have no excuse for neglecting their customers particularly as their customers now expect brands to interact with them on their terms. With that in mind, if your business allows it, you can take a break from proactively engaging and stimulating conversation with your community without risk of them forgetting about you provided you are still keeping track of the conversation and are ready to address any major concerns.

Community management is emotional and stressful, that’s why to avoid burnout take the time these holidays – if you can – to get off the posting schedule and rest, reflect and recharge for next year. This will be better in the long run for your company, your community and most importantly, for you.

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From Little Things…

Social Media0 Comments

When you look at the numbers behind social media, it’s hard not to be swept up in the excitement.

700 million users on Facebook!
200 million on Twitter!
25 million on Google Plus in the first month!

The numbers are staggering and on the surface appear to be a compelling reason to get on board. After all, with stats like that who wouldn’t want a piece of the action? But while I believe without a doubt that every business needs to be engaging in the social web if not now then definitely within the next 2 years, they must learn to change their approach.

Think niche

As marketers, the numbers that have been drummed into us as important by mainstream media are all about impressions and reach, which is what makes the size of Facebook and Twitter so appealing. But don’t be seduced by them.

You will never, ever reach 700 million people even if you are a major brand like Coca-Cola. Social media platforms are not so much a single network as they are a collection of linked micro-networks (or nicheworks) with a shared architecture, each one brought together around different areas of interest. It doesn’t matter if a community lives on Facebook or a specialist platform for Nigerian beekeepers living in Holland, the size of the network isn’t what holds it together, it’s the strength of the connections within that community.

Hold me, thrill me

To (poorly) paraphrase Seth Godin in “We Are All Weird“, we are at the end of the age of mass, where brands can no longer hope to be all things to all people. For communicators, this means speaking to people (after all that’s what we want: conversations) as individuals, not a target market. The question becomes not how many eyeballs can we reach, but how valued a member of the community can we become (or in the case of a Facebook, how valuable the interactions we facilitate on our page). Granted, some brand can be very successful not engaging in unique conversations because they have scale (see: Coca-Cola and their 36 million Facebook followers) but for the majority who don’t have access to that kind of audience simply broadcasting will have little impact.

The secret sauce (or at least one of) to social media engagement is not to be all things to all people (that’s mass), but becoming something great to a few: your most passionate, loyal and engaged customers, and empower them to advocate on your behalf. Not to say that you should ignore the rest, but with the fragmentation and abundance of competing messages, it’s an uphill battle to win the attention of someone who may not be so hot on you. Better then to put your energy towards doing something that genuinely thrills and excites the few who do care about your brand.

"Hugh MacLeod Advertising Advice"

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