ACT! 2010 has a fantastic new feature on the Web Info tab that integrates your ACT! contacts with many of the popular Social Media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more. And you can customize the Web Info tab to link to practically any site you want. This puts key information from your contacts right at your fingertips directly in ACT!
Great! Now what? We talk with clients all the time who have setup profiles on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Then they come to us and ask, “Now what?” They know they need to engage their prospects & customers in conversation, and that the myriad of Social Media outlets provide them a great way to do just that. What’s missing is the big picture – a strategy.
Who’s Got Time to Strategize? We hear, time and again, that our client’s biggest impediment to creating a cohesive and actionable strategy, for anything, is time. Ah, yes, time - that most precious resource. But here’s the flip side – if you don’t create a strategy first, you will likely waste 2-3 times more of your precious time by pursuing Social Media actions that don’t really meet your goals.
Merriam-Webster’s defines a strategy as a careful plan or method. That is what you need to develop for your Social Media efforts – a careful plan.
We’re Too Small – We Don’t Need a Strategy
The other thing we hear is “we’re so small; we don’t really need a formal strategy.” OK, but I would argue that the smaller the organization, the more critical a strategy becomes. Small companies have even fewer resources, so wasting time on Social Media forays that do not assist your company get more/better leads has an even bigger impact.
Steps to Create an Effective Social Media Strategy
Identify – find the social media sites where your prospects & customers are hanging out. If you aren’t sure, ask some of your best customers. Talk with your sales reps.
Listen – spend some time out on those social media sites and really pay attention to what people are posting, what get’s them most excited and/or angry and what information might be missing from the conversation. That’s where you can provide some significant value.
Prioritize – you can’t be in all social media sites, all the time. Pick the top 3-5 sites that fit with your ideal customer profile and create both individual as well as company profiles for each. Define Content & “Voice” – an important element of your strategy is once you have been listening to the conversation is to determine what kinds of information you are going to contribute and what is the tone of your contribution? On the content, be careful to provide information that is of value. I recently heard someone define the value of marketing content as something that is of value to them even if they don’t buy from you. And then you need to decide on the tone, and tone should relate to your target customers. Do they value a more formal style or something a bit looser with some humor sprinkled in? Pilot – engage in the conversation – put some information out on your targeted sites and then track the response and results. Then review the results and tweak your strategy as necessary.
Engage – regularly and in a way that adds value to the conversation. Consistency is good, but don’t just put out content because the schedule says so, make sure that what you are contributing is meaningful and timely. Review & tweak – continue tracking your results and make changes to your strategy as necessary. Revisit your strategy regularly - the world of Social Media is definitely not static, so re-visit where you are engaging and what contributions you are making to see if those are still relevant and productive.
Avoid Analysis Paralysis Some of our customers tend to get really involved in the creation of the plan, and wind up spending so much time on the strategy creation that they never get to strategy execution. A great way to avoid this pitfall is to determine a clear-cut timeframe for the process to create and pilot your Social Media strategy and stick to it. Also, the Social Media “space” is rapidly changing, so what you decide will work now may not be applicable in 3-6 months, and you would have missed the window of opportunity to connect with target customers.