23 Jul Notes from an Intern: Embrace social media
When it comes to social networking, you can’t just set up an account and watch the followers roll in, unless of course you are Katy Perry or someone impersonating the Queen. Even then, if people are willing to take the time to read your content, you have to give them your time in return, and give people a reason to follow or re-tweet you. It’s futile to just spam and plug the same few followers, to get results you need to know how to expand your audience and more importantly, keep it.
Working at RONIN I come across daily tips of how to gain more followers, the best ways to tweet, what to tweet and how to use social media effectively. Whilst these tips are beneficial it is easy to get lost in the nest of articles and blogs trying to convince me which way is best. I could consolidate the best tips and make another article but I’m sure what each of us deems the best will differ from person to person. Instead, I am going to focus on why social media is the best weapon you can have and why all departments in your company need embrace it rather than leaving it solely to the marketing department.
It has proven true that by using an informal personal tone, people can relate better to your twitter feed then when it is automated and robotic. Companies want to use social media to create positive brand awareness and understand what it is that customers want. To do this they must engage. This term ‘engage’ is continuously used when giving tips about social media but what does it actually mean? Connecting with your customers (or potential customers) and with your employees by interacting with debates or questions will make your news feed more attractive and in turn cause engagement. Social media is a two way process, if you want opinions and ideas you must offer something back in return; whether it is exclusivity or entertainment, to convince someone to refer and recommend what you are trying to promote, a relationship must be built.
To form this connection, to generate replies or debates, all members of the company should be involved. The use of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest become just as essential as a marketing business plan with the ever-growing influence of social media. If employees are involved in how the company is run they must be involved in the social media strategy too. It is a part of the business that should not be confined to the marketing department and it should be a team effort of involvement; you can’t just rely on one social media expert. This ensures a mutual understanding is met and also initiates the flow of new ideas from other team members. Some have argued that social media should be handled by the customer services department who understand the needs of customers or by the IT department because it is computer-based. But cross-department participation guarantees each department gets to have their own input and give their point of view, so long as it adheres to company policy. If each employee also promotes opinions, debates and ideas on their personal news feed it widens the audience further. However, you have to be careful not to make it come across as simply representing the company’s view, more that they are sharing and commenting.
One criticism from many employers is the question of whether using social media during work hours is beneficial or whether it lowers productivity and distracts employees. The 2012 Social Media Marketing Report states that ‘59% of businesses are using social media for 6 hours or more each week’. Although this time might seem purposeless, the report also examined that ‘85% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses’ which shows its effectiveness. Websites such as Klout can also measure your influence on social networking websites and keep track of your success. Do not underestimate the power of one of your followers. Awareness must be placed on how people can change and edit a tweet or blog post with their opinion which could change the outlook of the message. This can have a positive or negative effect on your brand depending on how you interact with your followers. By sharing the account and having a few ground rules set, the load can be distributed and in theory each member will subsequently spend less time on social media.
So why does it matter which department it is handled or owned by? It may come down to it not being of importance as social media becomes integrated in business plans, but what is clear is that there should be a set social policy for whoever is representing the company on social media websites. Having people from the marketing department, the design team and customer services centre contributing something to the network demonstrates the company’s step forward into the digital world. Ideas are no longer put on paper but born and discussed digitally.
As someone pointed out to me, having a department in control of social media is like asking which department should have a telephone. Everyone should use it to be reached and help reach other people; have a strategy and work together.
By Gemma Mejer