The emergence of social media as a powerful tool for networking cannot be denied. Ranging from Facebook to Instagram to Digg, people can meet peers with similar interests and grow their businesses. Three common challenges from organizations jumping into social are that they feel that they must be in every single possible social media channel available, that they need to keep them completely separate from their major online presence, and that they need to have absolute control on what happens within the social media channel.
Let’s take a look at these 3 issues.
1. We must be in every social media channel.
One thing is to set up a YouTube account.
One completely different is to capture the video, produce it, make sure that it meets YouTube standards, upload it, do some quality assurance, tag the video correctly, moderate the comments from other YouTube users, and of course, keep track of the performance of the video.
Be aware that while setting up a social media account may take you about 5 minutes, keeping it current and engaged takes daily work. Big companies are aware of this. For example, Time Magazine is currently focusing on Twitter and Facebook.
With over 370,000 likes on Facebook and close to 3 million followers on Twitter (@time), they understand that these channels are the most suitable for them and they are better off concentrating on them.
Takeaway: You don’t need to be in every social media channel. Choose the medium most appropriate for your message.
2. We must keep our social media presences completely separate from our major online presence.
While this may sound silly, most companies do this. How?
Simple: just by not including a social media bar on their site that lists the official social media presences.
On another note, if you do have a social media bar in your website, make sure that it is visible. Don’t bury it beyond the fold of your site.
On the other hand, a common problem from small businesses that are very comfortable with social media is that they may believe that they do not need a website at all. This is a common error. How are non-users of Twitter find your tweets if they don’t have an account in the first place? It’s essential to have a hub for your social media presences, an online repository that provides information about your organization and where can people interact with you. If you don’t have coding skills, you can opt for a paid online website builder, an online reputation service such as Klout or PeerIndex, or a personal profile page service such as About.me.
Takeaway: Create a online hub that clearly indicates your social media presences so people can find you.
3. We need to have absolute control on what happens within the social media channel.
No, you don’t. In real conversations, you cannot prevent somebody from saying something that you don’t want to hear (e.g. “your company sucks”). The real problem is not being able to address a question on time, which goes back to the first issue we analyzed in this post. For example, if you commit to creating a Facebook Page, people that “like” it, will expect that you provide an answer to their questions within a reasonable amount of time. You cannot expect every post on your Facebook Page to be a rave review about your company (and if you are only getting bad reviews, that should help you to identify problems that need to be taken care of!), and actually getting some negative comments every now and then does provide some validation that your social media channel is not a manicured PR service but rather an opportunity for your audience to have a conversation with you.
Takeaway: Expect some negative feedback, it is not the end of the world. Have a conversation with your audience and address their concerns.