Over the past ten years we’ve all become accustomed to a daily social media cycle of posting, tweeting, liking and checking in. However, few of us have ever been explicitly shown how to make these social interactions effective. For individuals, learning as you go along is fine. With new platforms constantly popping up, we can afford to experiment. Businesses, however, do not have this luxury. A misjudged tweet can seriously damage a brand. It is therefore vital that businesses get it right first time.
A Kiwi, Catriona Oldershaw is co-founder of The Insights Distillery, a specialist social media research consultancy based in London.
At first, tweeting or posting on behalf of a brand or business can seem daunting, however, by following the points below, you can ensure you avoid the potential pitfalls and maximise the opportunity social media presents.
Collect the Information
It is important to first take stock of the information which is available on your company’s social media platforms. Once you have a complete picture of what’s out there, formulating an approach becomes a lot easier. The second part of this involves analysing the data correctly. For example, companies are often good at tracking customer comments on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however, they often fall down on linking this information to other available data. Viewing data collected from the customer service team alongside insights gained from initiatives such as product launches, or even comments aimed at competitors will allow you to place your approach into the correct context.
Set the Right Tone
Although many brands such as Innocent and Starbucks have had success adopting a quirky and irreverent tone of voice, this approach will not chime with all companies. Understanding the make-up of your audience will shape the way you engage and present your message. For example, if you are a law firm, your tone is likely to be much more deferential. It’s always useful to think of engagement over social media as a conversation with your work colleagues rather than your friends or family. Keeping this in mind will ensure you strike the right tone.
Get Regular Top Level Approval
The CEO and other senior executives of a company often only pay attention to the company Twitter feed when something goes wrong. To make sure the insights, both positive and negative, from social media can inform company strategy, analytics reports should be reviewed regularly at senior management level. Getting top level buy-in is usually an exercise in education and simplification. Explain to your boss what they need to know and keep from them what is irrelevant.
Prepare for the Worst
Bad news is increasingly breaking on social media first and the way you react to it often has a greater effect on your business than the initial news. Social media is a lens through which your actions at a time of potential crisis can be heavily scrutinised. Therefore, you need to ensure that your team is adequately briefed on what to do at a time of crisis. It is also important to have alerts set up for sensitive topics. The moment a potentially negative story breaks online the corporate communications and marketing teams should be well prepared to tackle the situation. In terms of preventing a potential crisis, countering spikes in negative comments with offers or deals is a great way to dismantle any building discontent.
Used correctly, social media gives you the power to attract millions of potential customers and clients, however if used incorrectly, it can be a talking shop through which your brand receives nothing but criticism.
This post originally appeared on Lifehacker UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.