“We need to be on Facebook!” is a phrase many of us in communications will have heard from clients and colleagues. But it is only when this statement is turned into the question “Why do we need to be on Facebook?”, that an organisation will be able to effectively engage with social media users. It was this theme of ‘Why?’, that was central to the London Evening Standard’s Business Connections event this week.
Held in the rather impressive Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, with the headline act being Tony Wang, General Manager of Twitter UK, we explored how to effectively engage online, over red wine and cheese. In summary, when it comes to developing a social media strategy, any business, large or small, needs to ask itself why it wants to engage online and then concentrate on maximising the syndication of good, relevant conversations.
The ‘build it and they will come’ approach will not work. Instead organisations must ’fish where the fish are’ – a good philosophy for any social media strategy. Firstly, listen, so you know where your audience is, then engage with them in their communities with an appropriate purpose. If that isn’t Facebook, then you know what? That’s ok.
When it came to Twitter, Tony Wang’s view was that it helps bring people closer to things around them – it makes life more local and connected. He illustrated this with the bakery that has a Tweeting oven to tell followers when the croissants are nearly finished, so they can time their purchases perfectly. He also acknowledged how the platform is going beyond social and becoming a source of information – a discovery engine, if you like. With this in mind, he advised five simple steps to Twitter success – be discoverable; listen by following; engage; learn by experimentation; and finally, become a thought leader.
But again, brands must ask themselves ‘Why?’ Wang believed he had the answer, citing research that had found 84% of Twitter users like / love being contacted as a result of a Tweet and 59% of people are more likely to recommend a brand if they are following it on Twitter. Now that’s compelling, but don’t forget, only go fishing where your fish are.
The critical point is a channel planning one: which channel or mix of channels is going to be most effective at reaching the customer? Almost the same question faces the corporate affairs or CSR director: which channels are most effective at engaging with stakeholders? To help answer these questions, Lexis has created its own social media planning approach called REACT. It looks at how to identify, engage with and measure the reactions to campaigns. It also deals with the fraught issue of social media metrics. If you’d like to learn more about it or if you want to see some of the great work we are doing using social media visit http://www.lexisagency.com/work/