Nicholls, author of the best-selling book, “Social Media in Business,” is a proven expert who has helped business managers add millions of dollars to their bottom line by implementing social media into their organization from the top down. [His book is available on his Web site, www.socialmediainbusiness.com.] It's important too, to create a positive, engaging social media presence. Here, he shares 10 tips on how to craft a winning social media strategy.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
In the 21st century, no business can be successful without a sound social media strategy that communicates internally and externally to clients or potential clients. The rapid-changing nature of social media makes it critical for top level executives to understand how to implement social media into their business to maximize results.
Here are 10 social media tips for a top-level business executive:
1. Be the architect: As the CEO or leader you need to create a vision of what social media looks like for your organization – just like an architect has a model of the building that is going to constructed. This is crucial so that everyone knows their part and what they are trying to achieve. Create a common language so that everyone can participate in the discussion, not a just a few experts who know the jargon.
2. Create the model, bring everyone together: Develop a model of how to bring social media into your entire organization. Organizations that have a social media program in place - likely in the marketing department – but to truly maximize results a company needs buy-in from the entire organization.
3. What are the business goals? Create social media goals in the context of how will they achieve the business goals. The organizational goal could be, for instance, to increase the repeat customer percentage in order to increase revenue by X %. One marketing strategy could be to have a more effective customer relationship management strategy, depending on what you already do. You would then select the social media programme that would support those goals. That would be around customer service and the ways you interact with the customer to provide information.
4. Conquer the inside first: Social media can create diversified channels of communication both within a company’s internal organism, amongst staff, departments, divisions and other parts of the company, and externally, between a company and its customers, suppliers and other businesses. Also, social media can be used for both formal and informal communication, the former owned by the company and the latter by the employees. Social media also allows the company to reach out to customers or businesses beyond geographical limits, providing an alternative to face-to-face meetings.
5. Expand Reach in online communities: Social media can create and provide access to online communities and your target markets: it increases brand awareness, builds overall trust, taps into global and local markets, increases visible market presence, generates leads, helps to have higher rankings on search engines and increases search engine optimization (SEO).
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6. Improve International Communication: Social media makes it easier for employees to work together, improves communication between departments, can overcome geographical boundaries, and offers a softer way to interact with upper management. This will result in better relationships and increased productivity.
7. Collect Intelligence Effectively: Insight, just like wisdom, is much talked about but very seldom-practised. In social media, the Holy Grail is making insight as a part of the way you work. Content generated by the global online community becomes business intelligence that can help you gain insight on your customers, your products, your services, your competitors, your industry and other aspects of interest. Collect the intelligence and learn.
8. Be Interactive, hold online contests: This shows how social media can truly generate real value. Here are two great examples from Cisco and Coca-Cola:
9. Keep the Culture in Mind: Social Media is linked with corporate culture: The more open the culture, the more social media will flourish in your organization. A more closed culture will seek to control social media and will enviably fail; this is to be avoided at all costs. Organizational culture typically falls somewhere within this continuum, and social media projects will be crafted according to the type of culture your company has.
10. Have a step-by-step formula: This is crucial. Executives need to avoid going enthusiastically in the wrong direction, and in order to prevent this from happening, the social media model should consider how to integrate the already existing conditions of an organization but also adopt a staged approach. This is crucial in order to both keep in perspective business goals as the project moves forward, and to alleviate any risk the organization may face along the way.