Habitat UK, Skittles, Nestle, Asus, and more are all tales of woe and warning for anyone going in to social media. Getting it wrong seems easier than getting it right at times. This is often because of lack of planning as opposed to level of difficulty.
As important as it is for SEO, planning your social media strategy is important to ensure minimal brand damage from mistakes. Social media, with its low barriers to entry, may seem easy to do. Many think ‘how hard can it be to tweet and update Facebook’? Well, as Nestle learned when the tit-for-tat between an angry consumer and one of its marketing team on Nestle’s public wall got paraded out by some media and social media experts as a premium example of what not to do, a lot can go wrong.
While some may see Skittles allowing all Twitter search results to be published to its home page as innovative, it became a place where users tried to out-gross each other. My screen-shot from the time has to be blanked due to the nature of the tweets showing. Making a blog of Facebook the homepage of your company may seem cutting edge but a blog can also be seen as unprofessional and Facebook is nota space wholly owned by the brand.
Getting the strategy right to both move in to social media and use it for SEO is not just important – it is essential. There are several things to plan but first and foremost is an inderstanding of the why. Understand why it is your business feels it should be in social media. There are a number of successstories from companies like ABN Amro, IBM, Vodafone and others regarding their forays into social media however they were success stories because a picture of success was planned from the outset.
After understanding your reasons and goals from being in social media, select the best outlet for that strategy. Twitter is not a broadcast medium and no matter what anyone says, Facebook is invisible unless you promote it to existing contacts. Understand the different social media platforms and what type of engagement they are useful for. MySpace may not be mainstream anymore but it is still perfect for music and Orkut is the only way you’ll get a Facebook-like platform in Brazil.
Next plan out what you are going to say and do in this platform. Having a strategy includes not just why and where but also what, how, when and who. Important in here is who will be the voice of the company and if that ‘voice’ leaves will the social media contact go with them or will they be restricted to the brand. Also how do you identify who the person is behind the brand if it is the brand tweeting. Vodafone handles this by having all tweets identified by initials. You have to trust the voice of your company and empower them to tweet according to the schedule and when necessary off schedule.
Connections and outreach should be part of your social media strategy. Understand and research who the influencers are in your vertical and reach out to them. Do not try and make demands of them and do not try and buy space on their blog/facebook page/etc. If done to manipulate rankings, purchased blog posts or links can harm both the place the link/blog is posted and the company purchasing the link/post can be penalised.
When all this is in place and your ‘who’ is in place knowing ‘what’ they are saying ‘where’ and ‘when’ they are interacting, by what method (how), then you will be ready to launch your social media strategy and succeed where others have floundered or failed.