In our previous post, Social Media Engagement Plan Contents, we laid out a suggested outline for your engagement plan. In this post, we talk about your first social media contributions.
Your First Contributions
Before considering a large undertaking such as modifying your site with social media features or creating a do-it-yourself standalone social media site, dip your toe in the water and gauge the tenor of your community. After you’ve listened for an extended period, you can start engaging by posting on existing communities. Here are a few suggestions for your first contributions:
- Be low-risk, for example, by posting interesting, non-controversial news, comments, or events
- Know who the champions are in your community and acknowledge them visibly, perhaps by commenting on their posts
- Share professional/personal information
- Share a professional problem and ask if somebody has the same problems/interests
- Highlight content from well-established community members more often than content you create. You’ll build good will.
- Refresh your content often, but not TOO often: Performing A/B split content analysis using Google Analytics can help you figure out how often
Once you’re a familiar face, consider asking the community to help you design your enterprise’s social media presence. If appropriate (and your legal counsel approves), you can conduct contests that invite ideas and let other members help judge them. This is a technique called crowdsourcing (see bit.ly/cpyFhG for more information), and it is an effective way to encourage people to not only contribute ideas, but to take a stake in them.
Keep It Fresh
Change the content on your social media sites regularly. How you define regularly depends on your community, but you should shoot for at least weekly updates. The surest way to ensure the death of a community site is to let it get stale. This goes for the content you generate, and the discussion and other material your members generate. Mix it up. Give people a reason to come back, or to follow your feed, or to seek you out wherever you are.
Promote the Community via Other Venues
Social media should not exist in a vacuum, or even only online. Feature your social media presence in your newsletter, in your advertising, at your events, anywhere you’re doing public relations or marketing.
Even if you decide to focus on social features of your enterprise’s Website, or on a standalone social networking site that you build, also engage members and donors where they are (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and YouTube)
And of course, don’t forget to promote your social media activities on traditional media.
Synergistic Promotion Activities
We’ve said previously that you shouldn’t stop doing anything you’re currently doing just because you’ve started to use social media. Even more important: Fold your social media efforts into your other efforts so they reinforce one another. Here are some ideas along those lines.
- Social network outreach— If you have your own community or are sponsoring online events, use social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to promote your activities and gather feedback
- Blog outreach — Create a plan to involve influential bloggers and get them to write about your organization. Be sure to designate someone to follow and engage bloggers. Read Fanscape and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s white paper, Pitching to Bloggers.
- Email — Identify e-mail lists you can encourage to pass your message on. Ask staff, managers, and board to consider informing their personal contacts about your social computing efforts.
- Personal networks — Ask staff, managers, community members and supporters to tell their personal networks (online and offline) about your social media activities
- Traditional media outreach — Fold in links to your social media presence and promote your online events along with your offline events. Ensure that your current media personnel are well-versed in what you’re doing online.
- Online ads — Although online advertising is no longer as effective as it once was, you may still want to leverage it. Consider buying ads on search engines, such as Google AdWords, and ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites. Determine whether you will you hire professionals to produce the creative and manage the ad buy.
- Offline ads — How will you promote via broadcast advertising? Will you do print ads — even if it’s just including your URL in another ad for your enterprise or brand?
- Direct mail — If you do regular mailings, integrate your online messaging and URLs
- Collateral — If you produce written materials or trinkets, be sure to promote your social media presence
- Partnerships — Ask partners to spread the word to their customers, members, or constituencies
- Other established channels — Consider telling your social media story wherever you communicate with people, for example, your telephone hold music
Your First Social Media Contributions is the 31st in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at http://bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV
See the previous posts What is Social Media?, Social Sites Defined, Why Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1