Social media is a conversation

Look at the social activity of a business this way: what does the business need to achieve (customer relationships, marketing, brand awareness?) and which social network has the best audience to aid you in reaching this goal. 

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But this process is the wrong way around at the moment. Businesses get confused with social network features that may be of no value to them.

Social media is becoming more and more important in business everyday. We hear the talk of how fantastic it is, but more often than not don’t have a clue how to implement it. Kate Craig-Wood posted a great guide to social media in business this week, saying that picking your networks and putting policies in place are an important piece of the puzzle. But there’s something else yet.

Here’s what you have to remember: social media is conversation.

No tweets, no ‘likes’, no comments or status updates, just conversation online. This tends to be misunderstood and worked into trying to explain social network features at the same time. Mixed together these features sound pretty complicated.

Every business needs conversation to survive. The key to success online is the integration of social channels within the business. It’s much less about the platforms you broadcast on than you think.

Concentrate on developing better processes within the business using social channels. The great thing about using social channels is the ability to track the conversation, giving businesses quality data that can be used to develop from.

Social networks have massive audiences, and offer value when they are viewed as connectors between business and customer.

The key is finding ways to develop this into your own business requirements. This means that before you consider any social activity, you must ask yourself:

What do we want to achieve online?

What processes are we using currently and how would they benefit from a social make-over?

It may be you customer relations management, employee to employee relationships, or online marketing – whatever it is, starting off from these points in your social strategy puts your business first and social networks second.

Having an amount of followers on Twitter or ‘likes’ on Facebook does not improve your business online, it just creates a social profile, which does not give a measurement of your success.

The company website is still the strongest online component for your brand. It’s tailored to your needs as a business, content is created, services and products are displayed and the brand is celebrated.

When you connect with customers through social channels, drive traffic back to your website. This helps existing or new customers to really connect with your brand in a way that they already understand, and creates great opportunities for better relationships, to generate brand ambassadors who talk about your business online.

If you’ve read all the way to here, let me sum it up for you in a few key points:

  • Create a social plan that is based around your business needs and wants, not about the social network features;
  • Social networks are better used once a plan is established to locate your community, wether that’s in the form of industry or location. Use social networks as connectors for you business and its online community; and
  • It’s very important to have clear strategy goals which you can monitor and adjust based on the results.

Understanding how to be a ‘social business’ will help you develop your company. If done correctly it will offer you measurable results to show and develop progress. It will help people interact easier and with more confidence. From this you will develop stronger relationships, with a better understanding of the position of your business, both online and offline.

James Thomas of Yuftee ‘Social Business’ Management. 

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