Remember back in the day, when Twitter was consistently decorated by that image of the adorable Failwhale? We have certainly come a long way. We’ve recognized and accepted social media’s influence and power. It’s a different avenue of reaching people, as well as a great antenna for tuning into what people are thinking. Hence, the rise of social media marketing.
Social media marketing is quite a different beast from good ol’ traditional marketing. Sittin through a panel at the 2011 SXSW (Probably the only one I attended) I listened to Mike Lewis of Awareness Inc. speak on the five challenges that social media marketers face. He didn’t make any suggestions on how to navigate these rough waters. (Would’ve loved to hear them.) So, I’ve listed the challenges below, with italicized brief elaborations by Lori Randall Stradtman.
(Lori Randall Stradtman’s questions are a great starting point if you ever want to generate some of your own solutions, by the way. Thanks for the great post on SmartBlogs Lori!)
Five challenges social media marketers face and solutions to overcome them.
1. Inability to scale: How are you going to adjust your social media strategy to accommodate growth? Usually organizations just throw more bodies at the problem, but when multiple people are handling several different accounts on each major social network, it’s difficult to form a coherent strategy.
Solution: There are two ways to approach this issue. You can choose to have everyone contribute using one voice. This would mean training every contributor in style guidelines, as well as having an editor run through everything and making sure it all sounds like the same person. Unfortunately, this takes a considerable amount of time. Your work will pay in dividends if everyone can pull this off.
In contrast, you can run in the entirely opposite direction and have each social media team member sign their content. This isn’t too difficult to operate: a WordPress blog can have multiple authors, and a Facebook page can have multiple moderators and administrators. You can sign off Twitter feeds with initials of the person who published them. (i.e. “137 other characters” –DV) The advantage of this is the more authentic and human-sounding relationships that you can develop with readers. The disadvantage would be the lack of a consistent voice and style. If you are careful to train each social media contributor to convey a similar theme and big idea, you may be surprised at how effective different voices can be.
2. Security and control: How will your organization manage password security across a large group of people?
Solution: Everyone has their own social media account. So multiple authors on blogs and people on Facebook can comment on a page with their own account, etc.
Except for the Twitter account, which has to be communal should you choose to only have one account. Make sure your team members all sign an agreement that they won’t be allowed to change the password, and they are all personally legally responsible for their content. If you really want to be careful, change the password every time someone resigns.
Instead of having one account though, what would happen if you allowed three people totally dedicated to Twitter to have their own accounts (i.e. their Twitter handles could be “JimYourCompany”, “JaneYourCompany”, and “JenYourCompany,”)? You don’t have to worry about the issue of a hijacking. Their names and Twitter handles don’t even have to be real, in-person names. They could be codenames, or characters you create for your brand. This way, in case one team member ever leaves YourCompany, the new person you recruit can simply take over that account.
I have no doubt it’ll be more difficult initially, but with a lot of tagging between the accounts and spreading of value amongst the three accounts (i.e. announce Coupon A exclusively on “JimYourCompany” and Coupon B exclusively on “JaneYourCompany” and Coupon C exclusively on “JenYourCompany”) will entice users to follow more than just one account.
3. Consistency: At some companies, different departments and people have opposing ‘voices’ across multiple company platforms. While other companies have achieved a unified voice. Strive for consistency!
Solution: Have someone run through all content before it’s published and edit it for stylistic similarity, and find a model that you want your social media team to emulate. (This could be a particularly well-spoken team member, another social media account, or a specific someone on the web. It could be someone like Penelope Trunk, for example.) After emulating someone very well, you and your social media team will be able to figure out what changes you need to make to distinguish yourselves from the model you’d selected and truly make that voice yours.
4. Reporting is ad-hoc: There’s no universal standard in place to measure and track metrics.
Solution: Until someone creates a space where all our metric information is aggregated, you’ll just have to roll up your sleeves and use this makeshift solution that the rest of us use.
Tailor your reporting according to your strategy. Identify key metrics that will indicate whether or not you’re walking down the right path. For example, do you want more blog subscribers? More click-throughs? A higher conversion rate? Pick a couple to focus on (the fewer the better) improving. Find a service that tracks these metrics. (i.e. Analytics, etc.) Check in with the metrics periodically, and experiment with things. (The smallest tweaks can make the biggest changes! Change the way your copy is phrased, the color of your header, the structure of a certain blog post etc., and notice if there’s any impact on those metrics you’d identified earlier.)
5. Having a home base: How will you centralize your efforts?
Solution: Make sure everyone’s ships are sailing in the right direction. There was a time when someone would send me an orientation e-mail that included a word document “bible” to walk-through and a ton of stuff to read. That’s an easy way out. Chances are new recruits will barely skim through it or lie about reading it. Instead, make something more interactive and make it short and sweet. (Video? Real-life orientation? Face-to-face conversation?) And conclude by throwing them a pop-quiz. You’ll see who really paid attention.
Also, start a Yammer network or a Facebook group for your social media team. Make sure everyone stays up-to-date with everyone else’s efforts.
You may notice a common theme: four out of these five challenges arise when there’s more than one person managing a social media account (or series of social media accounts). Apply your expertise and what you know about managing people, and I’m sure you’ll figure out your own solutions. Who knows, maybe a tailored solution will work out better for you than these suggestions. Good luck with your social media efforts, and enjoy the ride!