I’ve written posts like If I started today and Start From Nothing, where I talked about how I’d go about building my social presence. In this post, I want to talk about if I were managing a small team or department for an organization using social media tools. There are similarities, but there are some things I’d set up differently.
Goals- Always Goals
In building any social media platform, if you don’t start with goals, you’re starting with a hope for failure. There are many possible goals: relationship-building, lead generation, sales, marketing, awareness, customer service. In my example, I’m going to set mine up with the goal of improving leads and sales, while helping out my customer service department. You can alter the recipe to taste.
For internal communication, I’d use a mix of Yammer and Google Docs. I’d use Yammer for the “fluid” information for our organization and I’d use Google Docs for static information, such as spreadsheets and records and documents. It’s important to have a good internal comms backbone, so that you can put actionable information in the hands of people sooner than later. I’d consider using a social CRM solution like BatchBook, too, because it’d let me keep a journal of notes on each client, depending on whether my sales were more transactional or longer-term.
I’d build a listening station depending on budget and size of company. If I had money to spend on analytics and insights, I’d buy the SAS Social Media Analytics tool (note: they’re a client, but they’re a client because I like this tool). For monitoring and sentiment, I’d buy either Radian6 or Sysomos (both have been clients) or similar. There are hundreds of decent listening tools. The reason I’d lean towards Radian6 is that they have lots of good team handling tools that let me manage the customer service aspects of social media really well within the tool. What I’d want that I don’t get right out of the box on any of non-SAS tools is better reports, but reports are for after the fact and these tools tend to focus on the here and now (rightly so).
I’d start with a blog as my home base, even if the corporation has an official website. I need a place to create useful content that would be helpful to my buying audience. I’d build a WordPress blog and use a premium Theme to pretty it up. I currently use Genesis (affiliate link) as the base of most of my sites. I’d build blog posts based partly on what I got out of listening and partly out of what my buyers need to know about. I’d add video as soon as possible, shooting with something simple like a Flip Mino HD or my beloved Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. Content, to me, is the anchor of any social media project.
I believe that an email database is one of the most vital tools people seem to skip over when building a social media plan. To me, having a strong email marketing relationship is almost (almost!) more important than any other set of tools. Because with good email marketing comes a relationship that spans the platforms (which come and go), and that’s worth everything. I use Blue Sky Factory as my email marketing service provider. Why I love them is that they have great social-to-email-and-back tools, but they also have great relationships with all the spam guardians of the world, so they can actually call and talk to humans if ever I get stuck in a bind. This means the world to me. Don’t skimp on email technology, even if it’s somehow less sexy in your mind.
Outposts and Communities
Depending on what I’m doing, this answer is a bit variable. If I’m reaching a highly targeted business-to-business type of customer, then I might actually build a community platform and invite them in. This is the hardest of efforts, as people don’t usually want to join yet another platform. However, if I leave my community needs to a Facebook or a LinkedIn, then I’m at a loss for marketing data that I might normally want. So, that starts things off with a quandary. Do I want to work harder at getting people into a more measurable system, or do I want an easier effort to reach people?
If I have a consumer product, then I’m a bit more likely to try a Facebook group for promotions and awareness, but with links back to the blog frequently for actual lead acquisition and conversions. More likely, I’d also stuff my blog with Facebook “Like” buttons, so that I could ensure that people share my ideas out into their own Facebook communities (see also: Zappos.com).
The goal at the outposts is to build relationships with people and grow a little bit of a community feeling. The elements you need for that are a way for people to identify as part of that community, a common purpose for them to gather (hint: “gee my product is awesome” isn’t really an easy battle cry for people to get behind), and a way to share interactions with or without your explicit participation. This section, to me, is the trickiest, and I could write (and I have!) much more about community building with a business value in mind.
Twitter, obviously, is my community of choice. The reason, however, is the opposite of what I’ve listed here. I love Twitter for its serendipity effect. I love that it allows me to build multiple communities of interest at once. But that doesn’t sound all that targeted, so let’s just call it my little secret. Shhhh.
There are two things I’d do if I’m marketing a product using the social web:
- Make it easy to buy.
- Make it easy for you to sell to other people.
If at all possible, I’d have not just a robust ecommerce solution (and don’t be fooled into thinking that your product is too complex to sell on the web. I bought a 2010 Camaro on the web), but also an affiliate marketing opportunity. Why? Because I continue to believe that affiliate marketing is the best possible method of extending your salesforce on the web. I think that finding passionate people with applicable communities and audiences and then enabling their ability to profit from selling a product they support into their community is the gold standard of marketing on the web.
Yes, referrals without profit are wonderful. Yes, just pointing to the good things is noble. That’s all great. What I’m saying is that there are lots of people who could stand to make a few extra bucks a month who also have a relationship with an audience that matters. Those people, when selling openly and with true intentions of supporting their community, are the best salespeople. Talk about word of mouth. This is the ultimate value proposition.
So That’s the Basics
When I look over what I’ve written, I could see telling you about this or that plugin, or this or that passing fad of a tool. I don’t see the value in muddying up the descriptions above. You can add and subtract tools as you see fit. You can point out why I’ve not mentioned this groundbreaking thing that you’ve done to get a million leads. I’ll gladly listen. My point is that I’ve given you a simple starting point for a platform.
Let’s talk about it. What else do you need? How else can I help? What can I clarify?