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.