Women Of The Channel 2014: Staying Serious About Social Media Strategy

Serious For Social

Social media expert Jackie Funk gave a talk on the more serious side of social media strategies during a breakout session at the recent Women of the Channel West conference in San Francisco.

Funk, who refers to social media in its abbreviated form as "social," is the founder of Serious4Social and before that ran marketing for Dimension Data's Americas business.

Funk offered tips during her talk on how companies can sharpen their social media strategies to remain relevant while strengthening their brands.

"If you don't become social, you're a dinosaur and you're going to become extinct," Funk said.

Why Bother?

Funk presented some interesting stats for anyone who has not yet been sold on using social media to build brand awareness.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter -- or the "Big Three" -- count more than 1.8 million active members who generate more than a billion unique interactions daily, Funk said.

Social media can be effective in gleaning valuable insights about a company's customers with those kinds of numbers.

Beyond Marketing

Think of social media as something beyond just a function of the company's marketing department, Funk said.

It doesn't matter if you're in the sales department or part of finance. Anyone can act as a brand ambassador for their company on social media.

"Regardless of what you do in the business, there's an opportunity to help your business," she said.

Think Strategy

Don't tweet or post aimlessly, Funk said.

"It's got to be more than just random activity," she said. "There's got to be more measurable outcomes."

Companies that are successful at social media have already figured out what they want to accomplish with Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever platform they may be using.

That's the difference between just doing social and actually "putting social to work for your business," Funk said.

Brand Ambassadors

If you're tweeting or posting about your company, make sure you know the corporate policy, Funk cautioned.

She pointed to a June 5 exchange during the Heat vs. Spurs game in which a fan tweeted a sarcastic comment about LeBron James' leg cramping during the game, confusing James' sponsor, Powerade, with Gatorade.

Gatorade was quick to clarify with a tweet: "The person cramping wasn't our client. Our athletes can take the heat." The company later issued an apology saying it had gotten caught up in the game.

Funk said while the tweets were fun to follow, it could have been a risk to the Gatorade brand.

"As a social ambassador, you are an extension of your brand. You need to understand your company's culture," she said.

Reputation Management

Reputation is everything, Funk said.

"It's your personal and professional. It's your online and your offline," Funk said.

It's important to remember that any time a company has content going out.

"What happens in Vegas, doesn't stay in Vegas," she said.

'It Takes A Village'

Companies often think that in order to be successful with social media, they need to a hire a young kid to manage those efforts. Funk said that's not necessarily the case and the more important things to remember is whether the person managing a company's social media account has a firm understanding of the brand.

"It takes a village," she said. "It takes all of us. Social needs to be part of everything we do. ... You've got to dive in."

And because social media is always on, it's important that a company designates someone to closely monitor those accounts.

Don’t Force It

Authenticity is everything when it comes to a company using social media.

Followers will know if the message is being forced.

"If you feel like it's painful to tweet about something because you hate your job, don't do it," Funk said.

Consistent output is important and automated posts can be a useful tool, but don't become a machine, she said.

Social Recruiting

Use social media to find new talent, Funk said.

Using LinkedIn or another platform can help generate more candidates, increase the quality of candidates and reduce the amount of time it takes to find a qualified employee for hire, Funk said.

The challenges with using social media is that higher applicant volume can make it more difficult to screen prospective employees and can also make it difficult to sift through the applications to find talent.

If a company doesn't stay on top of incoming applicants and isn't timely with follow-ups, there can be damage to the brand, Funk said.

15 Minutes

Spend 15 minutes daily on social media and you're on your way to bolstering your brand, Funk said.

Spend that time doing these four things:

1. Invite three people to connect on LinkedIn

2. Comment on LinkedIn status updates

3. Share one LinkedIn status update

4. Think 4-1-1 when it comes to Twitter: Share four pieces of relevant content written by others, retweet one meaningful tweet and one favorite informative tweet.