Alas! The busiest time for bloggers and social media experts has finally arrived! It’s that time period of the year when we are bombarded with blogposts on themes like ‘10 best social media campaigns of the year’ and ‘Social media predictions for 2014’. In the race to compete and succeed, we are busy evaluating our past steps and setting future goals with ‘fair amount of assumption’. Instead if we stick to some basic principles, I am sure not only we have more reasons to smile at the end of next year but also would have brought smiles on our (brand’s) stakeholders. So, here are few things that all brands may stick to in 2014:
Let’s be human through social platforms
Though time and again it has been emphasized that social media platforms are primarily meant for ‘engagement’, at the end of the day most of us knowingly or unknowingly get involved in the herd mentality and start treating these platforms as broadcasting ones. I understand the objectives of each player in the social media ecosystem is different, however if we all work with the principle of humanizing the brand through social platforms, our end objective would start converging.
Think of customer engagement before the social assets
You would have read many blogposts with predictions that mobile / applications / augmented reality are going to rule the social media space in 2014. Well, these are just tactics and social assets. The need of the hour is to stick to basics and focus on ‘customer engagement’. Let’s not start with the thinking that – can we organize a flash mob & convert it into a ‘viral video’? or put up a augmented reality show at a mall & start bombarding the social networks. These are temporary gimmicks and would easily be forgotten by the people. What gets registered is the special treatment that you provide to your customers and their friends.
Top management should lead from the front
Being the big daddy, you can’t afford to pass on the towel to others! Its understood that you can’t have as much time as the social media executive designated on the account, however it definitely would help you understand the stakeholder mentality if you spend some time on the brand’s social media platforms. It really brings a difference to the brand’s image when you are a CXO and responding to a query on Twitter / Facebook with your individual identity.
Make your employees as brand ambassadors
Who knows better about your products than your employees? Let’s assume that even if 25% of your employees are very proud of the products / services your brands offers, won’t it make a huge difference if they evangelize. The most common argument I have heard is that employees don’t participate though they are encouraged. Well, the answer lies how you motivate them, make them feel as an important person of the brand’s visibility rather than just as a call center agent.
Bridge the internal network with the external social network
Its high time that various departments in the organization that are well connected within themselves need to be synced to the external social network. Technology is no more a constraint and brands can’t claim anymore that ‘we can’t share that data to the person interacting with the community’. Every possible measure needs to be taken and ensure that information passes seamlessly from and to each department.
Differentiate your brand with incredible content
This point has been done to death by many experts and bloggers and yet we have seen very few brands put that extra mile effort to come up with an incredible content. Hire good graphic designers, visualizers and most importantly exceptional copywriters who can express the message in an effective manner. Brands should differentiate themselves with unique content and not conveniently resort to copying images from Internet. Let’s not start the discussion around content, with the presumption if an image would work or a video.
Social media piece in the digital marketing pancake is all about patience
Unlike other digital marketing tactics like SEM, display campaigns, email marketing etc. social media needs enormous patience. You can’t build a huge and relevant community overnight. Ofcourse, social advertisements are a way you can resort to, but more often than not, you would end up an irrelevant community even with the best of the optimized campaigns. Let’s accept that building community needs personalization and true word of mouth.
Think beyond traditional social networks – voice based networks, local language networks
When most of the population in India is staying in the rural areas and mobile has very well penetrated in these areas, won’t it make sense for brands to focus beyond the fancy social networks? The voice based networks like Rocketalk are penetrating the rural areas of the country in a big way. Brands could effectively leverage these platforms to reach these mobile users.
Prune the impurities in the ecosystem
As a brand, let’s not get into the shortcuts of building community on Facebook and Twitter through some contests that would not make any sense a day after they are conducted. I don’t claim that social media contests are totally irrelevant, but what matters is that they should be well thought through and related to the brand.
Try your best to measure ROI of the social media efforts
The debate to map every penny spent on social media still continues and in my knowledge it would never cease for the very reason of its nature. You don’t measure the ROI of few hours you spent talking to your friend / acquaintance, right? However, when significant budget is allocated for the social media activities, top management do expect some numbers to justify the budget. The only mid way solution is to try and match the objectives with end results as much as possible in the monetary terms. Decide on unique metrics that would be applicable for social media efforts and aim to achieve them.
You would have read many social media predictions related blogposts, hence I didn’t write one on those lines. Let’s follow these basic principles and hope to achieve the most of our efforts.