Promoting Social Media To The Integrated Communications Bullpen

Where does social media fall in the hierarchy of your organization?  If you're still treating it as something you hand off to the interns to keep them busy, you're doing a great disservice to yourself, your company, and your interns.  Your social media presence and strategy should never be treated as busy work or an experimental project.

Social media is, in many cases, the first connection with your organization, yet many organizations leave it in the hands of a young and inexperienced professional without any oversight or supervision.  Think about it this way: would you send an intern to golf with your largest customer and ask for more business?

While that's an extreme analogy, by leaving social media in the hands of the intern, you are doing the same thing.  Social media belongs in the middle of your integrated marketing and communications plan.  It's time for it to graduate from the intern room to the bullpen of marketing and communications at your organization.

Breaking Down Silos

Did you know that social media is viewed as the second most effective digital marketing tactic for customer retention purposes, behind only to email? (TNW News).  

  • The PR team should use it for reputation management, brand awareness, and to manage an issue before it becomes a crisis.
  • The marketing team should use it for customer acquisition.
  • The sales team should use it to network with new prospects.  A study released by KiteDesk proves the effectiveness of social media for sales professionals.  In fact, salespeople who have an excellent understanding of social media were over six times more likely to exceed their sales quota than peers with rudimentary or nonexistent social media skills.
  • The executive team should use it for thought leadership and credibility.  However, at the time of the 2015 Social CEO Report, there were only 50 Fortune 500 CEOs with a presence on Twitter.  According to American Family Insurance CEO Jack Salzwedel, social media is "a part of the job" for CEOs.

Of course, as with anything integral to your company's reputation and management, there needs to be a process for handling social media.    In fact, this is the recipe for a communications disaster.

No Longer An Afterthought

Social media needs to be a touchpoint at every step of the way.

  • How does your social media strategy align with your business goals?
  • How will you manage a communication crisis?
  • What's your brand voice and how will that shine through as you interact with your customers online?
  • What's your escalation plan?
  • How are inquiries coming through social media routed to customer service, and vice versa?
  • When are you doing social media compliance training for new employees?

When creating an integrated communications plan, you need to ask the same questions about your social media strategy:

  • What does success look like?
    How are you going to be measuring the return-on-investment?
  • Where are your customers on social media?
    What are they talking about?  How are they using social media to engage with their favorite brands?
  • Who is going to be managing the strategy and execution?
    How are the roles defined within your teams?  Who holds the keys to your social media accounts?
  • How is your internal team communicating with one another?
    What's your process for checking in and escalation if there is an issue?
  • Why should people care about what you're saying on social media?
    Are you creating thoughtful and useful content?  How are you interacting with your customers and influencers online?

In fact, it's a tool and technique to complement every point of outreach to your customers.  When used properly, it can leverage advertising, inbound interactions, and even live events, such as tradeshows and conferences.

Never Stop Learning

You've broken down silos, you're prepped with all of the answers to the questions above, and your company is ready to make a splash on social media.

You have a killer editorial calendar, you've created great informative content, and you're ready to hit send.  Go forth and engage!

This is it.  This is your social media plan from now until the end of time.  You never have to change a thing…

You didn't actually think it was going to be that simple, did you?

When your sales are fluctuating, your email open rates are falling, and your ads don't perform well, do you just say, "Oh well, we have to stick to the plan"?  Of course not.  You evaluate, see what lessons can be extracted from the missteps, and pivot with a new strategy.  Social media is the same.

To be successful, you need to experiment – as long as you're true to your company brand and voice.  You're not seeing traction with your content? 

But What About The Interns?

Your company's interns are there to learn about your industry, and that does include social media.  Having an integrated marketing plan means the tasks you assign to your interns will include social media touch points.  In fact, you can even have your interns evaluate various social media platforms, create proposals for a potential social media campaign, and even come up with suggestions for how your current social media strategy can be improved.

This article originally appeared in the Social Media Special Edition of Brand Quarterly,
produced in association with Sysomos – click HERE to read the full issue



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