Social media is no longer the new kid on the block; it is now an accepted and practiced marketing discipline. Sure, we all made mistakes on the path toward social excellence, but the channel overall is the stronger for it. And isn't it nice, much like the end of every episode of Full House and Wayne's World, we can all learn something from the journey?
Considering social media's domination of electronic interaction, it's clear that we can learn plenty by observing how people use social media, and how that can apply to what we do as marketers. And, since most B2C businesses with a Facebook presence have acquired customers as a result of that presence, there's bound to be some crossover.
So let's take a look at six lessons that marketing pros can learn from common social media best-practices.
1. Mingle effectively
People engage in social media because it's just that: social. Successful social media users don't just talk; they interact, share, and collaborate. The comparison is often made that social media is like a cocktail party. At a cocktail party, people mingle.
It's the same way on your marketing team. The best work gets done when we mingle and encourage collaboration. Let colleagues, even those in other departments—especially Sales—know that you're listening.
Don't think of your co-workers as an audience you bark orders to, but as collaborators who have valuable insight that will make your marketing programs better.
2. Use encouragement and etiquette
In social media, being polite and encouraging goes a long way. And, if it's a good principle for life and social media, it's probably a good suggestion for marketing.
Here are a few ways to apply this insight:
- Recognize success. Like a Fave Star on Twitter or a Like on Facebook, a simple "thank you" or "good job" at the office will fuel anyone's tank. And, if it's a bigger win—like an on-time, on-budget website launch—get approval to make a big deal out of it at the next department or company meeting.
- Use tact. Social media is a Petrie dish of unsavory trolls and arguments over which politician is worse. Those who keep calm are those who earn respect and followers. At work, it's always fine to disagree. If done respectfully, it can be used an opportunity to educate, compromise, and build something better. Remember: There isn't a sarcasm font. (Although comic sans gets our nomination.)
- Be inclusive. In social media, your circle is ever expanding. And that's the point, isn't it? You want to find more people to share and brainstorm with. At work, it's not just about the people who sit next to you. Take the time to pick the brains of those in other departments. You may get some creative ideas you can use on your next campaign or e-book.
3. Harness tech, but use the right tool
You can't be everywhere at once. There are hundreds of social sites and only one of you. Much as the way you choose the social channels that are most beneficial for your marketing objectives, most social media professionals choose one solution to manage all of their social efforts. Be careful, though. Those who seem to be on social media constantly are not always productive.
It's the same with your marketing team. We rely on solutions to help us with productivity. Make sure you apply the right tool for your daily work, projects, campaigns, and metrics. It's best to find one that can do it all. Using too many tools leads to disconnection, confusion, and inefficiency. No need for scissors, a screwdriver, and a bottle opener when all you need is a Swiss Army knife.
4. Get and give total visibility
When a company decides to dedicate resources to social media awareness, the channels become visible to everyone—your competitors, your employees, customers, and CEO. This is what you want. The more people following, the more awareness you create.
Apply that same concept to your daily work efforts. Make sure everyone has visibility into the work you and your teams are doing so there's no doubt about your goals and progress. Collaborate with other groups where you have potential project overlap in order help one another accomplish more than you would alone.
5. Be calculating and accountable
When we all started our social programs, no one really worried about ROI. In fact, it's still hard to put a hard number to the impact of social media, but you can definitely find metrics to track. When you can show benefit, there's a good chance the program will keep running.
Similarly, make sure that you keep your team, department, and organization accountable for their work and efforts. If you're going to be held accountable for leads at a tradeshow or for unit sales, your team should be able to track all assets, hours, resources, and deadlines. Then you can show value at the end of a successful campaign.
6. Adopt a repeatable process
And hold everyone to it. Social efforts become effective once you become reliable in the space and when people join your conversation. A tweet posted in the forest isn't heard unless someone else is there to see it.
Ensure that your team members adopt the processes you set in place to streamline your everyday work activities. You can template the process for use on repeatable projects and other work. Then, when there's a last-minute request for a brochure, your team only has to worry about being creative instead of panicking about process.
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Overall, it's important to see the big picture. Just as with all the social sites we use, the more you focus on yourself, the less benefit you will get out of the work experience. All good marketing is a series of interactions between you, your team, and your customers, internally or otherwise. So, when you are sitting in that planning meeting, ask yourself, "Will what I'm about to say make me the life of the party or the one they have to ask to leave?"