It’s not just about having the most followers…

When it comes to social media marketing, it’s not just about having the most likes or the most followers. It’s actually about a lot more. And like with any marketing plan, strategy is key. It’s no different with social media. Marketers need to have a strategy before jumping into the deep end.

I believe any business can develop a reason to use social media to engage and connect with target audiences, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed. As Scott Elser advises find your venues and set realistic goals. It takes manpower to develop and maintain a social media presence. Companies need to research the networks their communities are using and focus on reaching out through those specific networks. I know even in my personal experience, my employer, Carilion Clinic, jumps onto every social network when it becomes popular, but we really only maintain four actively (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest). This is something my team needs to re-evaluate as we move forward.

Another key skill when developing a social media strategy is finding your voice. Working for a large healthcare organization, this has been something I’ve focused on honing in on over the last two years specifically. We don’t want to be seen as the “big, bad hospital”, but rather be an authoritative  hub for wellness information and a trusted source for advanced medical care. As a not-for-profit Carilion is truly a member of the community and we want to be seen as such, especially on social media. To do this we not only promote our services and physicians, but also post things like healthy recipes, promote our healing arts program, and share patient success stories. We’ve also recently launched a new image campaign titled “From Moment One” with the goal of portraying ourselves as a part of people’s lives for all those life-changing moments. How has your business or employer developed a voice on social media? Do you agree with the voice or do you think it could be improved? If so, how would your change it?

My team has also made a concerted effort to engage with our community. One of the “laws of social media marketing” is reciprocity. Maintaining your voice and storytelling also means you need to respond to your followers (good and bad posts) and engage with other community members who may or may not be engaging with your organization. As we’ve seen time and time again, with large and small companies, ignoring or responding negatively to posts will only bring on a PR nightmare and diminish your business’ credibility. It’s important to be proactive and realistic. Opening your business up to the social media world can present some unwanted comments, but I have always believed it is better to be part of the conversation rather than ignoring problems. It’s customer service 101, whether it’s in person or online, it shouldn’t be ignored. Has your business or employer ever chosen to ignore and delete negative comments or posts? If so, did it make the situation worse?

Beyond business strategy for social media, individuals also need to have a personal social media strategy. A recent survey shows 92% of employers are or will be using social media networks to recruit employees. Traditional resumes will take a back seat to individuals personal brands and multimedia skills. It’s great news for those of us who thrive on being innovative and creative, but will show an even larger gap for those unwilling to shift with ever-changing technology. My employer’s HR department claims they don’t have time to investigate applicants’ social media pages, but I doubt that is entirely true. It’s almost second nature to look someone up on social media sites as soon as you receive their name. Now, does scanning someone’s profile mean you learn their entire story? No. But can it help you learn more about them before an interview? Yes. I think social media screening will only become more and more popular in the years to come, as more recruiters look for you before you even look for a job. And, if you think hiding those drinking pictures and posts will save your personal brand, Dan Schawbel’s article points out it’s actually more important to remember the basics:

Interestingly enough, poor grammar and spelling mistakes are worse social networking sins than writing about your latest binge-drinking adventure: 54% of recruiters had a negative reaction to grammar and spelling mistakes, compared to 47% of recruiters negative reaction to alcohol references.


13 thoughts on “It’s not just about having the most followers…

  1. Our company,, gets its fair share of negative comments, both on the website and on social media. We try to respond to every one, because we’ve found that ignoring them just makes those negative conversations spiral out of control. When we respond to the person honestly and quickly, it assures them that we are listening and that we care. We can’t always fix whatever it is the person had a problem with, but letting the person know someone heard them makes a world of difference.

    • I agree, Julie. I’ve had the same experience where I’ve changed someone’s negative feeling toward us to a positive by just responding. If we hadn’t that would probably have never happened. Like you said, it doesn’t always change their feelings, but a response is better than nothing when it comes to customer service.

  2. It’s good to see that your company is actually acknowledging the negative feedback and trying to make some sort or resolution with it. Showing to compassion to your audience solves nothing. I don’t think it can ever hurt to try and turn around someones negative emotions.

    • We’ve actually had several instances where we’ve turned some very negative situations around via social media. I always tell my bosses if we weren’t online and listening to certain conversations we probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to weigh in and engage with our community.

  3. Deleting negative comments is a great question, because the first amendment is a fun one. I keep all comments on our page, until people start cursing… when we get a where our fans might be uncomfortable because of content, I delete– I don’t want someone to unfriend us because I wasn’t paying attention.

    My greatest story comes from when we were playing USC last season; it was a home game, and I went to sleep. Granted, it was at 1:00 AM and I had to be back at the store around 5:30 AM. Somewhere in-between those hours, the USC fans on the west coast trolled on our page and posted terrible things– I’m telling you, awful things… swears, slang, debatable, deletable, EVERYTHING. Beginning around 2:30 AM. I caught it around 9:00 AM, after we had finished opening the store and setting everything, and I apologized to all of our fans who tried to filter/monitor USC fans, but I felt terrible that it had happened. At the end of the day, our fans where both empowered and happy that we took care of it. But, the power of social media is very great when you consider what it can do.

    • Kristen, our policy is similar. If people curse, use threatening language, or in our industry violate privacy laws, we remove the comments immediately. Usually, I send the person a message telling them why their comment was removed, in hopes of preventing them from posting again. As I’m sure you know, that doesn’t always happen. A few times we’ve had to block people, but that’s happened very rarely. Like your fans, our followers I think appreciate when those comments are removed.

      • Exactly! Great minds think alike– I send a message to explaining why we did it. We don’t like to just take it down without explaining why. It sends the wrong message… which we know is key.

        I think its crazy that you guys have to take privacy into consideration, it should just be second nature, but I know it comes up more often then you’d like.

      • Oh yeah, we get people posting crazy stuff all the time. And not so much about their health issues but people they know! One recent incident, a “friend” posted a women’s name and health condition. We took it down because we weren’t sure if the woman had consented to the information being made public… and come to find out later she didn’t! We saved ourselves a lot of legal issues by removing the comment quickly.

  4. What a great question about deleting posts! It always depends on the situation but I don’t necessarily think they should be deleted unless it is threatening. In what universe does everyone have the same opinion? I wish I could live there if there were one!! It is always good to respond naturally and respectfully to the person who wrote the message. If the message does need to be deleted then message them to explain why. Otherwise, commenting back is always a good way to go to either explain your side, apologize, etc. By the way, I LOVE the video added to your blog. It definitely makes your blog stand out!

    • Thanks for the positive feedback Victoria! I appreciate it.
      And I totally agree with the points you make. We all have differing opinions and I often have to remind some of my colleagues of this who get made when a negative comment is made. It’s always better to try and fix the problem then ignore it.

  5. Hey Laura! It sounds like you’re dealing with a tough crowd. Usually, engaging with an irate customer should alleviate the issue, however, if the conversation continues or gets more aggressive, you could always reply with an epic comeback with an equally heinous, yet humorous effect. You already know that digital dirt attracts media attention, so get down and dirty with a clever post or sweep the dirt under the rug so to speak. The unfortunate thing is that some people may continue to harass you on all of your social media accounts, and tag team you with their entourage. Sometimes it is better to ignore/delete the negativity from your media stream, but be prepared to enlist some help from the authorities or have your team develop clever and witty catchphrases that your adversaries can’t compete with.

    • Thanks for the input Jason, but unfortunately I live in southwest Virginia, which is generally a very conservative region. In fact, we’re pretty far behind in the global sense of social media networking. That being said my organization is ahead of the curve here, but our voice and comments must reflect not only our community but the role we play in it. As a healthcare organization that deals with very sick people and serious issues, I don’t think catchphrases or humorous responses to negative comments would work. People here already see us as the “big, bad hospital” we’re trying to change that perception and be more like able. We take a soft, yet direct tone and so far we’ve only had a few very negative interactions.

      • I understand you’re in for a wild ride and some rules that are written in stone dealing with a conservative crowd in the Bible Belt. Dealing with serious issues is obviously nothing to take lightly.

        On the other hand, don’t underestimate the power of satisfied clients. When negative publicity surfaces, your loyal customers are often your best advocates.
 You can encourage patients, family members, and friends to voice their opinions on review sites such as Yelp, Health Grades, and Rate MD’s. iPad stations could be set up throughout the hospital in the cafeteria, break rooms, waiting rooms, etc. for convenience.

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