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Understanding Social Media on this wonderful #SMDay!

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Callooh, Callay! It’s Social Media Day!

It’s June 30th, and time for the annual celebration of all things Social Media oriented. According to Mashable:

Mashable launched the event in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening right before our eyes. Each year, thousands of people organize hundreds of meetups across the globe. From Australia to the Philippines, all the way to Sri Lanka and Morocco, countries come together every June to participate in this global movement.

Social Media has slowly become the digital tie that binds.  It represents a new aspect of our voice – the instant global platform connection with real-time results.  With the exception of the verified check next to proven celebrities, brands, or companies, everyone has the same opportunity to be heard (arguable, but true).  And, it’s all about sharing and connecting content and people.

Social media is the social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

Wikipedia

Some of us engage in social media weekly, daily, hourly, every 15 minutes?  And we engage on a personal level, and a professional level.  I, for example, manage my own personal life, my (attempted) public persona, participate with my clients’ social media, and I am very active with my company’s social media.  I like to be connected. 😉

SocialMediaDay2011If you work in the digital arena, chances are that you’ve either requested, considered, built, managed, or participated in some sort of social strategy for a brand, company, or your own hobby/career endeavors.  If you’ve spoken with our sales staff or our social media staff in the past, you understand that we’re a very flexible option for social media services, and can move with a lot of different goals for our clients.  There can be different aspects of social media – items on a checklist (if you will), and here’s some insight on how they exist operationally.

Social Media Strategy
social-media-strategyStrategy is so essential, particularly for brands or teams with a lot of moving parts.  It starts with competitive analysis.  Who are your direct competitors and what are they doing?  What are some other companies doing, and what do you aspire to do?  Who is doing it wrong, and what do you want to avoid?

Building your tone is so vital to your audience, and your own consistency. You should establish an expectation for your audience.  What do you want the public to walk away with, after experiencing your social media?  Can you associate 3 target/favorable adjectives, minimum?  What platforms are key to your success?  Some platforms can be “homes” to your content (like Youtube) and some can be conduits for sharing (like Twitter), or vice versa.

Lay out your desires, your goals, and your daily, weekly, yearly expectations.  And try to remember: if you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.  Some social media strategy needs to be based on efforts that take time to show value (after all, impressions don’t make lasting friendships).

Social Media Content Creation
Content creation can be simple, or complex – this is in relation to both the content itself, and the platform for social distribution.  Text and image based content can be the quickest (in theory) and the smoothest for sharing.  Video and unique app content (the new “buzz” platform) can take a lot of time and effort, and may present a gap between release and any sort of pay off.  Weekly and monthly content calendars take time to create: you need to look at marketing schedules, world events, social buzz tools, and even leverage thematic ties.  Often times, people think creating a social media calendar is easy — it is not, and deserves time and attention.  Even if you play on real-time building content, you should always have a back up calendar just in case (it’s good practice folks).  If you plan on building content for video or audio, its is best to plan in advance (as best you can) – and prep for script writing (or planning), necessary editing, video training, or implementation of additional tools.  I will say — an experienced team can really crank out great content within 24 – 48 hours of HARD work, but it is not easy, and again — it takes a lot of experience.

Successful social media endeavors are based on creativity and relevance, and shortcuts (or cheats) are humor, nostalgia, aesthetics/art/colors, sex, newsworthy trends, and controversy or drama.  You don’t need to use one or all of them, but some people like to leverage such things for attention or story-building. Review your strategy, and your end goals prior to content creation that hits any of those shortcuts. And consider the opportunity to be flexible with your content.  Plan in advance with the knowledge that conversations change.  Stick with your calendar as much as you can, but know what people are talking about, and decide if you want to create the conversation or join the conversation.

Social Media Management
How are you going to staff this?  Do you *really* have the internal team to react 24/7? Have you looked into amazingly affordable options (like us)?  I highly advise thinking twice about having your marketing manager (at $x per hour) doing nights and weekend social media work, and caution you if you think it’s something an intern should be in charge of… (liability & experience, folks).

It’s essential to know who does what, when, and names of those with access to your social media presence.  It’s key to build out work flows for approval and posting, to review best times for content posting for largest audience outreach, and understand escalation paths.  Do you know what you’re going to do in times of a social media criss?  What tools do you have implemented to help with the sharing or tracking process?  Do you know their pitfalls (after all, Facebook changes its algorithm often, and developers of such tools barely have time to react)?  Set expectations, and back up plans, and monitor them weekly with reports and team checks.

social-media-strategy-outline1-620x330Social Media Engagement
Are you planning on building a relationship with your audience?  Stick to that tone doc, folks.  Engagement in social media borrows a LOT from both customer service and community practices, and it’s important to understand how both areas fit into your engagement policies.  Know the value of following your top users, engaging in industry events (like hashtag chats or Google group sessions).  And be very aware of the social cues expected from each network or platform.  Facebook audiences can be very different than Youtube or Twitter or even Google Plus.  Know what your audience wants from you in that platform, and what will make them listen or pay attention — but never give up who you are (highly active users are not your best friends, and making a casual joke in response can have consequences).  Hone your approach as practical and embraceable for/by the masses.

Social Media Advertising
By creating a social presence in media does not mean you’re going to pop up on the radar of your adoring public.  Relying on your growing fan base to build users can also be tricky.  If you have goals to grow a post, or your presence, quickly – it’s fair to try out various social ad techniques: post promotion, handle promotion, right rail advertising, Google ads, promotions and contests, etc.  There are multiple opportunities, and they are scalable depending on your reach, filters used, and daily spend.  “Buying” likes or followers is not the same as social media advertising, and it is a tricky gamble (rarely ever equates to engagement statistics or value).  So, really think about what would be best for your long game — what you want.  Growth takes time, and continued quality/relevant/engaging content is key for lasting relationships with a user-base… but before any of that, you need to show that you’ve joined the party.

Social Media Outreach
Along the same lines as Social Media Engagement, and Social Media Advertising, it pays to reach out to your audience.  Find communities, or your top users, and embrace what they’re doing (if its positive) with your brand.  Establish relationships with emissaries or brand evangelists, and empower them to spread the good word of your business.  Leverage contests or promotional opportunities where necessary!  Social Media Outreach doesn’t always produce high results — it is often the tipping point for a few passionate followers to become advocates, and that’s where the value is… seeding the community with more possibility.  Social Media Outreach opportunities are flexible, change, and grow in creativity by the year.  If you’re honest with yourself, your team, and your expectations, this area of social media can be really rewarding with a bit of effort.

Naturally, this information is meant to help provide a brief contextual understanding of how broad social media can be, in regards to opportunity and execution.  A brain dump, if you will (you should see me with whiteboards, I cannot resist drawing out these things visually).  Should you be interested in this area with your company, Metaverse Mod Squad is a highly effective option for you, after all, we pride ourselves on being an engagement company.  We’re a team of community, customer service, quality assurance, moderation, and social media super fans (both in products and overall industry).  If you have more questions, contact us!  We’d love to talk more about this stuff (seriously).  Or, follow & tweet at us.  And, while we’re at it – let’s be friends!

HAPPY #SMDAY — NOW GO AHEAD & EMBRACE IT!

Izzy Neis
Director of Strategy & Engagement

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