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Its latest campaign produced disappointing interaction levels.
And, because of the campaign’s failure to attract a significant following, the business was tempted to pull out of social media altogether and focus on other areas - at least until people in their vertical market sector were deemed to be 'ready for social'.
The failure of the campaign prompted some interesting questions, such as;
“Did the business’s potential clients (people working in hospitals / health care) have the ability and inclination to access social networks.“
“Was it feasible to be 'friends' with businesses? Was it possible that customers didn't want to form this kind of relationship with a business entity?”
Finally, the business outlined the main issues with its business-to-business communication rules. The crux of the problem was the way the rules restricted how it could talk to customers and what it could say to them.
Now, I know there is already a wealth of knowledge to be mined on social media, reading blogs, articles and twitter; you will find some amazing examples of best practice and advice. However, the goldmine is also potentially a minefield because the sound advice is so mixed up with a huge amount of drivel!
I wanted to share the initial advice I gave to this business; advice which was followed up with more in-depth detail about strategy creation for the business, social and content.
We can then open up the discussion. I would welcome your comments on how you have addressed businesses like this in the past, where there has been initial negativity towards social.
I wanted to address the business’s initial negativity to social campaigns with some quick fire answers to its questions.
The first issue here is the use of the word 'friends'. This is Facebook terminology, from the days before Facebook had 'pages' or 'groups'. Brands have moved away from trying to be ‘friends’ - it breaks the terms of service.
Instead, brands focus on creating a 'like' mentality !
Activating the like button is widely perceived as a signal that the 'liker' feels an affinity for that brand's persona. Each social network will attract different types of consumer audience who are dependent on the brand.
The key thing you must understand is how people want to interact with you as a business.
Quite often, business communication rules were established before the birth of social media; the rules were intending to apply to letters, emails, PR, etc.
Around the turn of the millennium there was a shift in the way brands could communicate with potential and current customers.
This shift was not always reflecting in business communication rules.
I suggest you print out your company's communication rules, and keep them in front of you when you are creating content strategy.
Highlight where the rules limit you and then approach the relevant department to discuss the potential to re-shape parts of the communication strategy to reflect new social media requirements.
However, before you start a new social campaign, tweeting and potentially spamming people, it’s good to take a step back!
It’s obviously great that a business is supporting social media. The business can see the possibilities offered by a new channel and understands the potential of growing and engaging a new and existing audience through it.
However, in most cases (including my own example), no-one bothered to ask “WHY?” you might want to create a social campaign
So, here are four top-line questions you need to ask yourself, and the business, to understand WHY you are engaging in social media:
A lot of these questions are very high level and will only pick up on a small element of the overall diagnosis you should be carrying out as part of a full social strategy
Once we have answers to these questions, we can address any initial negativity towards social campaigns and move on to create an effective social media strategy. The answers to the business goal and social media questions can be used to align the strategy to the business goals and objectives.
I would like to commend the business owner for asking questions before giving up, and to thank them for allowing me to use them as a case example.
Have you had any similar experience of initial negativity towards social media because the strategy was not outlined from the start?
With thanks to Jon Rognerud for use of the image.
By Russell McAthy
Russell is Director of Strategy at BlueGlass. His experience in Analytics supports advice on all facets of digital marketing from Search to Social, Mobile to Usability and Design. Russell has worked both Client and Agency side with businesses ranging from the start-ups to blue-chips. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.
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