When social media first arrived on the digital landscape, it was widely panned as more of a toy than a tool by pundits, gurus, experts, and other thought leaders who wear headsets and turtlenecks.
However, social media has not just become a legitimate part of the business communication ecosystem, but for many businesses it is their leading channel to connect with customers and communities. And we aren’t just talking B2C e-tailers. Big, established and series enterprises — like insurance company, health care networks, and even funeral homes and exorcists (yes, exorcists) have a significant social media footprint.
Yet despite the prevalence and popularity of social media, a surprising number of businesses aren’t hitting on all cylinders. Yes, they typically have a Facebook, Twitter and maybe one or two other accounts (e.g. LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc.). And they might have a dedicated social media coordinator or team; or farm this function out to a third party. All of these are important pieces of the puzzle. But as mentioned, it’s typically not enough because of gaps in one, some or all of the following three areas:
Social Media Governance
Social media governance doesn’t simply mean “keeping an eye” on various accounts. It’s a comprehensive, multi-phase process that includes conducting a social media audit to capture an inventory of all social media account — and not just those that are readily known. It also involves assigning ownership to each account, validating the security of various SaaS content management tools, and integrating the approach with the overall corporate risk management plan.
Generating Social Signals
While Google hasn’t come out an officially say that it factors social signals (e.g. likes, upvotes, +1’s and so on) in its search engine ranking algorithm, it’s widely believed in the online marketing community to play a role. Most businesses, however, aren’t even paying attention to this element — primarily because they aren’t generating content that is compelling, relevant or original enough to generate the kinds of positive social signals they want. Fixing this doesn’t require a PhD in Social Mediaology: push out great content, and the positive social signals will follow.
Consistent Brand Voice
Last but certainly not least, while some businesses are doing a solid job of populating all of their social media accounts with fresh content, many of them are spread so thin resource-wise that each space has a different brand voice. This isn’t to say that the messaging should be generic or copy-and-paste. The tone and approach for LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily work for YouTube. But this isn’t about delivery, it’s about strategy — specifically, that many businesses aren’t paying attention to the fact that they’re saying categorically different things, in different ways, on different social media accounts. This cacophony and lack of consistency isn’t good (to put it mildly) for brand building.
The Bottom Line
Despite its ease-of-use, social media isn’t and has never been a set-it-and-forget it or turnkey operation. Like anything else, it’s an asset that has to be developed, managed and optimized. Ensuring that the above three areas are strengths instead of vulnerabilities will help your business get the most out its social media investment — and generate bottom-line rewards now and into the future.