Sunday, February 19, 2012

How Simple is Social Media?

"How Simple is Social Media?" 

We recently received this question in our inbox from Christina on February 17, 2012. It was really great timing too because Angie Lile had just returned from the Ragan Social Media Summit in Las Vegas. This was a large culmination of social media folks from all over the globe who come together to learn from each other and from the top experts in the field. We heard presentations from Southwest Airlines, The Discovery Channel and Zappos, just to name a few.

The top experts consisted of BrianSolis and Chris Brogan who closed the event out with a plethora of F-Bombs and social hilarity mixed with sound advice for how we should approach Social Media.

One of the common themes that Angie noticed with all of these social strategies was that social should be simple and that you should be using social to connect with individuals rather than counting them as a “Like” or a “follower”. Social followers are not statistics, they are people and if you expect for this to work for you, your actions should definitely follow this belief system.

There were several questions that you can ask yourself to find out whether you are in alignment with your beliefs or not and we've compiled them for you here:

1.  What are your company/brand's values? What do you believe in?

Your company is not just about making a profit, it actually has a value system, a belief system. Typically it mirror's your own belief system. The more you are in alignment with this the more your business will grow to incorporate those beliefs. Think of your social sites as your company's personality. As such, it would operate under the same beliefs. It would react with real-world environments in the same way.

2.  What goals have you established for your social media efforts?

If your only goal is about driving traffic to your website then you are setting yourself up for failure. The number one reason for social followers to move away from your social sites is because they feel like they are being spammed each time they see you. Not only that, but you run the risk of being excluded from your followers newsfeed because you lack engagement with your content. Create a goal list that includes other things such as creating a community space, providing customer service, or building relationships with your fans. For example Zappos rarely markets their shoes to their followers and instead they use social to interact with their followers on a more personal level. Sending pizza's to a random follower is considered the norm for Zappos. They don't ever think about selling when they interact with people so they have a very loyal fan base.

3.  What kind of business or company do you see yourself having in 10 years?

Do you want to be the company that gives rewards back to their employees? Will you have employees? Brand advocates come in all shapes and sizes, but research shows that the most valuable advocates can be your employees. Southwest airlines encourages their employees to share work-related stories which generates a huge amount of buzz for the brand on all of the social channels. Not everyone has Southwest's 45k employees but even 1 can be a great asset to your message.

4.  How do you see followers benefiting from your content?

If a follower is benefiting from your social feed, they will want to share that with others. With each post that you create, really ask yourself if this is something that you would share with others? If you have any doubts about putting it out there, then don't do it. If you don't want to read it, others will not want to either. It's that simple! If your company is mirroring your values, then it will be easy to find those pieces of content that inspire you and you will know instantly that this is what you want to share.

5. What are your followers saying about you or your company?

Don't be afraid to dig deep and see if your followers like what you are putting out there. You will want to change your strategy as you go along and see what works best. This is no place for a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. This includes opening a dialog when someone says they don't like what they see. If you start receiving negative feedback, make sure you stick it out and figure out how to find a solution. Even if you need to stand your ground. This shows that the social presence that they are interacting with is not just some inanimate thing not worthy of interacting with. You might even be surprised to find a few fans in your corner when things go that way. The obvious goal here is to be transparent and people will respect you more.

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