It’s time to invest in social media because one day soon,
the line between social and just plain "business” will disappear.
By Carla Kalogeridis
There’s a Hootsuite™ whitepaper out with some good tips for
organizations looking to transform into a more social enterprise. It makes the
point that while social is no longer new, but it is young enough that best
practices are still being carved out. In other words, the standard for social
media integration has yet to be drawn.
Here’s a summary of Hootsuite’s "Tips for Social Business”
as seen through an association lens:
Tip #1 — Evaluate. After taking stock of your organization’s social
maturity, it’s time to ask a few questions. First, where have you already or
where do you plan to deploy social programs and against which goals? Avoid considering social in a vacuum. Take the time
to understand where it best fits your organization and how to integrate it into
existing organizational and departmental goals. You’re not reinventing wheels
for social, just using it to make the ones you have turn faster. Look beyond
vanity metrics such as Likes and Follows and try to find a direct link between conversation
and conversion. Focus on influence and analytics over inflating a group size or
Tip #2 — Organize. While you want to centralize control over
your social platforms with a social tool like a dashboard, you want to
de-centralize the conversations you have over them. To do that, you need to
empower your teams to engage your members and potential members in conversation
Tip #3 — Listen and learn. People are talking about your organization.
And if by chance they’re not, then they’re talking about your competitors and
starting a conversation you’ll have trouble being a part of. Don’t let your
organization get left behind. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once described your
brand as, "what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Today, not
only do you have an opportunity to be in the room, but also to take an active role
in the conversation itself. Good search practices start with monitoring for mentions
(the good, the bad and the ugly) of your organization, but can also focus on
topics related to your industry where you can be an influencer.
Tip #4 — Engage to build community. While each association
will have it’s own communication style, there is a right way and a wrong. The
most important thing you can do is to acknowledge the voice of the member,
really hear and respect what they are saying. If what you’re hearing is a
complaint, let them know a resolution is being sought, then follow through on
that resolution to the best of your organization’s ability. Integrate your
response with existing channels, and let the most appropriate channel lead the
way to resolution.
Listen and pick your moments. Give advice. If sales are a
priority, nurture potential leads with relevant and helpful content. Make sales
through engagement. The age-old sales maxim, "Make a friend first, a sale
second” still applies to social, only even more so due to social’s ability to
amplify positive, or negative, experiences.
Tip #5 — Collaborate. Share learning internally. Encourage
your social teams to distribute new learning both within the team and your
organization as a whole. Keep an ongoing loop of discovery and dissemination
where best practices, positive messaging, or common questions are put forward
for comment or collaboration. Ultimately, better internal collaboration
supports improved external engagement, keeping messaging consistent, intelligent,
Tip #6 — Measure ROI. Tie social to the big picture by linking
it to organizational and departmental goals. Build the capacity for measurement
into every social action. Use URL shorteners to track your click-throughs.
Integrate Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to track on-site conversions
or drill in to geographic disparaties in data.
Hootsuite wraps up by pointing out that now is the time to
invest in social, stating: "One day in the not-too-distant future, there will
be no more social business. Social will simply be business, and business will
simply be social.”
Carla Kalogeridis is editorial director of Association Media