Getting social media right

Many businesses do not seem to know what to do with them, and most seem to be uncertain of the ‘social media’ ROI. And without that clarity of purpose, it is next to impossible to gauge what is an appropriate level of energy and effort.

Ashley Carr, Managing Director, Neo PR argues that what has become very clear when it comes to social media, is that if you are going to do it, you need to do it right. And in order to do it right, you need content.

So you’ve ticked all the Social Media boxes… what next?

Twitter account set up – check; Facebook profile done – check; blog on the web site running – check; LinkedIn corporate profile working – check… So where are all these magical leads that I was promised?

If you are like most, then the tick-box exercise of setting up ‘all things social’ is done and the hard part is just beginning. Why? Because like most things in life, getting things started is always more exciting and a lot more interesting than keeping them going. And to keep them going requires dedicated, continuous resource that in these turbulent economic times can often get diverted to handling the other, seemingly more urgent fires that demand attention right now.

The trouble with Social Media is that most people view it as a means unto itself, where ‘if you build it, they will come’. But in actuality, it is little more than a rehash of more traditional marketing and sales channels. It is, after all, just another set of pipelines and conduits to your potential prospects that needs filling with relevant, timely content. There is little magic in the mechanisms themselves – they are just other ways of making contact with the same people you have always been trying to contact – but they do demand a different type of attention. Their intra-day need for fresh content makes them seem like their importance is raised above all the more traditional forms of Marketing, but to give in to this insatiable appetite for things to say, is to be diverted away from your core marketing aims.

If you turn it on its head and look at it as simply another way to get your marketing and sales messages out there, and worry less about the seemingly complex and frenetic way in which social media demands to be driven, then you arrive back at the basics – content generation.

Content generation has always been the bane of marketing – be it that Newsletter you started once and ran out of things to say on Issue Three, or that Direct Mail campaign follow up letter you were going to write that somehow slipped off the radar. But it need not be. Place content at the centre of your marketing activities and develop a methodical approach to its generation, and slicing and dicing it up to feed the Social Media engine becomes easy.

Social Media content may well appear different. It demands opinion-styled comment – not brochure copy. It needs an interactive element to it that enables dialogue, rather than monologue, with your audience. And it’s a great place for Thought Leadership – talking to your market about your market – to be brought to the fore and used to fuel the interactions. But the great thing about this type and style of copy, is that it can easily fill all the other pipelines you always found it difficult to find copy for – Newsletters, PR campaigns, Direct Mail letters etc. Generate the content once and leverage the heck out of it through everything from Social Media to Press articles – generating real ROI on the time invested to create the content in the first place.

So rather than waste the energy you have already invested in setting up the Social Media tools and look absent in your market due to the last update being some months ago, concentrate on setting up a repeatable timely content creation process and the rest will flow from there.

And building a content generation process using both your internal resources (you know, all those people in your organisation who have opinions on your market!) and with maybe a little help from outside, can transform the process and take it from the ‘too difficult’ list to the ‘it just happens’ list. It’s not rocket science and it is always easier once you get started – so what’s stopping you?