As recently as a year or two ago, it was common for me to have conversations with CEOs – especially older CEOs – who just didn’t “get” the entire social media phenomenon. They gave me a lot of pushback when I tried to persuade them that they were missing out if they weren’t making use of social media in their overall PR campaigns.
Twitter? Facebook? They couldn’t grasp the point or understand how 140-character tweets or regular status updates could help them promote their personal or business brands.
But the times they are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan so eloquently put it, and I don’t seem to get that pushback too often anymore. Somehow, the lesson has begun to sink in and now professionals from every age group understand social media’s importance.
Hey, I tried to tell them way back when!
Why a change of heart from those who previously were so reluctant? I’m not certain, but maybe it’s because they hear how even presidential candidates make use of social media these days. Maybe it’s because we’ve reached the point where people automatically assume they can connect with you on social media and are surprised – and perhaps annoyed – when they can’t.
Regardless, the recognition that social media is a critical element of any publicity effort has taken hold!
But that said, realize that you can’t just leave social media to chance, posting new content infrequently or failing to respond to questions, comments or complaints about you or your business that others post.
Your social media platforms need to be tended to regularly. Most likely, if you’re a busy executive, an entrepreneur with a hectic schedule or an author focused on writing your next book, you’ll need to hire a social media professional who can concentrate on doing the job for you. This can either be someone you hire in-house to be part of your staff, or you can contract with a firm.
Either way, EMSI’s own senior social media strategist, Jay York, offered to share some fundamental things to know that will help you manage your social media team:
- You need a real strategy. Building a social media strategy is a little bit science and a little bit art. It involves knowing who your target audience is, how to reach them, and figuring out what kind of content – both words and graphics – will attract them. Of course, when something works well, you’ll want to understand why so that you can do even more of the same. But without a person or team devoted to social media, it’s unlikely you’ll have a smart strategic plan or be able to examine and capitalize on the results the way you should.
- Understand that this isn’t one-size-fits-all messaging. Be sure you avoid a cookie-cutter approach to your social media strategy. Every brand should have its own voice. For example, humor can work well for some businesses, but might come across as inappropriate for others. A toy manufacturer is not the same as a funeral home, which isn’t the same as a landscaping business or a financial planner. If you’re hiring a firm to handle social media, you’ll want one that understands how your company is different – even from others in your industry. It’s important to determine what makes you unique.
- Provide your wisdom. Even when someone else is handling your social media campaign, your input is crucial. For example, we request our clients provide us with a number of “witticisms” or gems of wisdom that only they can provide. It helps us connect to their message and sets the tone for how we communicate on their behalf. If you provide this to your social media team, they can extrapolate from there, playing with and building on your wisdom to help spread your message.
If you’re an already busy professional, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can take care of your brand’s social media on your own and do it well. This isn’t something you can squeeze in when you get a couple of minutes between staff meetings and phone calls with clients.
A well-managed social media campaign is a long-term commitment, not a one-and-done deal. It takes strategy and skills unique to this medium, plus time and single-mindedness to build a valuable following and solidify your brand on social media.
Times a-changin’ indeed!
P.S. If you need professional help with building your social media presence, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215.