According to a report by Pew Research, “Nearly seven-in-ten Americans now use social media.” In today’s world, it is impossible for many to imagine business success without the use of technology, specifically the use of different social media tools. Despite the vast number of individuals utilizing the different social media platforms, we are still seeing businesses struggle to get started or gain traction in building their social media strategy.
Social media is a valuable and integral part of communication today between brands and consumers. “About 58.6% of American consumers interact with brands on social media about one to three times per day”. Consumers turn to social media for news, upcoming events, product reviews and to address customer service issues. If a brand isn’t online, then those very valuable interactions with consumers are being left unheard. The brand reputation is then cultivated as being non-responsive or un-caring. While many businesses struggle with engaging effectively online, we also have some great examples of brands using the medium to elevate their brand.
During the 2017 Super Bowl you could see the mobile phone carriers, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, fully executing their social media strategy through paid commercials and online social media conversations. They tied their online conversations to what was happening in the TV commercials and responded in real-time to their audience. In 2013, the Oreo brand was able to capitalize on the Super Bowl black out with a well-executed, brand right Tweet about how you can still “Dunk in the dark”. This earned the brand over 525,000,000 earned impressions and cost them nothing (other than the employee time). Even individuals like the Kardashian family and politicians are turning to social media to amplify their message and engage with their audience.
Why Posting Isn’t Enough
However, very few of these examples happen from pure luck. They take knowing the brand, its goals, the audience, and who within the company has the power or creativity to execute. Simply put…it comes down to strategy. Without a social media strategy, companies and individuals alike, are just adding to the noise that already exists on social media. Humans have the attention span of about 8 seconds. That is less than a goldfish, so your content and how you engage online must add value! Here are the first few steps to creating your social media strategy:
- Understand your brand – Who are you? What need do you or your products fill? What is the mission or goal of your organization? If you do not know how your social media strategy aligns with the overall goals of the organization, you will find losses in terms of time, spending and missed opportunities.
- Know your audience – What are your target market segments? Which segments do you want to focus on? For social media specifically, it is important to also understand the online behaviors of your target market segments. Where do they spend their time online? What content do they consume? Answers to these questions will help you to determine what type of content you put online and which platforms you will use to communicate with your audience.
- Set SMART goals – What do you want your online interactions to do for you or your brand? Once you have your goal make sure that it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant (to the overall business goals), and time-bound.
- Assign responsibility – Who will be creating content, engaging with your audience, and listening to online conversations? Do they have the tools they need to address potential negative feedback? Making sure that everyone in the organization understands the role they play in maintaining the online brand will lead to success.
- Review and update – A social media strategy is not a one and done event. You must evaluate what is working and what isn’t and make changes. If a platform you have been using shuts down, for example, how will you adjust to continue to engage with that audience.
Companies Need Certified Social Media Professionals
One key to creating and implementing a social media strategy is hiring social media professionals that have a proven skill set. Unfortunately, this is where many businesses struggle. There are a ton of social media “experts”, “gurus”, and “rock stars” competing for attention. Hiring managers often struggle to determine who actually has the skill set needed to create, implement and maintain a solid social media strategy. This is where certification comes into the picture.
Certification is a tried and true way to establish a difference between the people who say they know what they are doing and those who can actually demonstrate core competencies in the vital areas of strategic planning, compliance and governance, project and campaign management, social media marketing and communications, online community management, and research and analysis. Certification through an industry standardized body also ensures that professionals will need to keep up with current changes in the industry in order to maintain their certification credentials.
While many organizations have started to recruit skilled social media professionals – ones who can demonstrate their skills – there is still a significant gap between the relatively small number of trained professionals in the industry and the rising demand for them in the marketplace. According to Marketing Land, between January 2011 and January 2015 the number of job listings on Indeed.com increased by 350 percent. If will drill down into a specific area of social media, we will see that the number of LinkedIn profiles containing “content marketing” has risen 168 percent since 2013.
The bottom line is that for organizations to succeed in today’s fast-paced, always connected, content heavy world…it is imperative that they invest in a solid social media strategy. This strategy becomes even more successful when the organizations empower their employees, through proper training, to better utilize social media effectively in their workplace.
Jennifer Radke, CEO of NISM, is a dedicated, passionate and strategic business leader with 15+ years in sales and recruitment management, leadership, coaching, development and training. Most recently, she was the owner and chief strategist at Socially Inspired, a social media training and consulting company. In addition, she is an NISM-certified Social Media Strategist (SMS), serves on the board for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota and can be found speaking and presenting to job seekers and businesses alike, on how to better utilize social media in the workplace. Jennifer believes that lifelong learning is the key to continued growth and your networks are the best way to expose yourself to new opportunities.
*First published on LinkedIn.