2013 is the year that social media marketers can finally focus the majority of their efforts on strategy, regardless of budget or team size.  I have held a number of jobs in social marketing, including social media intern, social media specialist, social media strategist, community manager, and social media manager.  If you’ve worked in similar positions, you are well aware that the majority of your efforts have been spent in the trenches.  You’ve been busy providing front line support, frantically shooting off emails to find out what is new, and recording results in a monster of an Excel spreadsheet.  Social marketers can now rejoice because tools are allowing us to lift our eyes from the ground to the horizon and formulate effective social strategies for the long run.  So take a few seconds to let out a big sigh of relief.  Feel better?  Good.  It is worth noting that simply having these powerful new tools does not automatically make our jobs easier, it requires setting the stage for success.  The following tips will help you pave the way:

I’ll begin by explaining what tools I use: Spredfast and Jive Software‘s social intranet.  Spredfast is a social media publishing, monitoring, and analytics tool.

Stop Asking, Start Reading

In a perfect world, the social team would be the first to know when a press release or product release is in the works.  Unfortunately, informing the social team about product releases, press releases, and other offerings tends to be an afterthought.  This made it impossible to plan a cohesive content strategy.  With a social intranet, social marketers are able to stay in the know about all company news:

  • Follow Decision Makers.  Create a stream for the people that you would traditionally email for updates and follow their activities.
  • Join Planning Groups.  This requires some initial research but is worth the time.  Find and join the groups where planning occurs for the departments that you need to coordinate with, like public relations, product marketing, field marketing, and engineering.  Regularly monitor these social groups and their calendars, as opposed to shooting off emails that fall into the black hole known as the inbox.

Stop Being Support, Start Being Social

In the past, the only option was to email support and wait for an answer to give to customers.  Given the real-time nature of social media and high expectations on the part of consumers, social marketers are left spending hours trying to answer customer questions and stall while waiting for support.  Let’s pause for a moment: this is not the fault of customer support, they have procedures to follow and a queue.  Thanks to enterprise social networks, support and social marketer are no longer synonymous.  To prepare for customer questions, I recommend you:

  • Train Support.  Select a couple customer supporter personnel to train on social best practices, how to use your social publishing tool, and develop a workflow.  At Jive, I work with Mathew Ladd on social support.  When a customer posts a question, I notify Mathew in Spredfast and attach an internal note of what I think needs to be done.
  • Create a Project (or Group).  Designate an internal Group or Project as the place to post questions that come from social media.  For the Jive social team, we created a Project in our social intranet called “Social Monitoring and Responses,” where Mathew or I post questions that come through social that we are unable to answer ourselves.
  • Share Internally.  With a social intranet you are able to bring in questions from social media and quickly reach the subject matter expert with a simple @mention.  If Mathew or I do not know the answer, we use Jive Anywhere to bring the question into our social intranet for resolution (as you see in the screenshot to the right).  After the appropriate response i s determined, I respond from our official Jive accounts on social media.

Stop Guessing, Start Measuring

Today, we are being asked to connect the dots between the dollars spent on social media marketing and hard ROI.  Thanks to software like Spredfast, it is possible to create custom social reports with a few clicks and measure what matters.  Just a few years ago, I remember manually adding up the number of likes, retweets, and followers.  Happily, those days are gone.   When it comes to social media measurement, you will want to:

  • Pick Metrics that Matter.  Numbers can provide insights and clarity, but use them sparingly.  Measuring everything is as useless as measuring nothing.  Focus on the metrics that align with your social goals and demonstrate that you are making progress towards reaching them.  For example, I measure four key quantitative metrics: reach (network and follower network), activity (number of outbound messages), engagement (replies, retweets, CTR), and leads (determined by gated content).
  • Use Traceable Links.  Create custom links with tracking codes to measure your CTR (click through rate).  Having unique links that track clicks to gated content on your website is key to attribute sales leads from social media marketing.
  • Understand Sentiment.  Measuring sentiment about your brand is an important indicator on brand health and is not to be forgotten.

There you have my list of stops and starts. How are you using enterprise social networks to set yourself up for success in the new year?