My first digital marketing specialism is social media. After doing research and subsequently publishing my best-selling book, The Smart Sceptic’s Guide to Social Media, I’ve become more involved in developing frameworks and guides for social media in a B2B setting. Social media is probably the most powerful channel for sharing information and knowledge. Over 3 billion people are social media users – that’s 42% of the world! In this blog, I will tell you how I help my clients get started.
Social Media: Do You Really Want It?
I spent over a decade in corporate organisations. One thing I learned is if senior management does not wholly back an initiative, the chances of it succeeding are almost ZERO. This is the same with social media; it is generally a great channel for boosting a company’s brand and developing thought leadership. But the lack of support at a high level could make it unsuccessful.
That’s why I start the “Getting Started” process by establishing affirmation from senior leaders. I work with the MD/CEO to understand the business objectives and expectations from social media use.
Are these expectations realistic?
Also, do senior managers use social media themselves?
For instance, it’s a red flag if the C-suite executives are not on LinkedIn.
Related Blog: Does it matter if your organisation has a social CEO?
Brand surveys such as Brandfog consistently reveal that C-suite engagement on social media makes a brand more honest and trustworthy.
“Since 2013, we’ve seen a 15% increase in the number of respondents who believe that social media engagement makes CEOs more effective leaders. Regarding the changing nature of communications, an astounding 93% of survey respondents view socially engaged CEOs as a means to build better connections with customers, employees, and investors.” – Brandfog survey, 2016
I establish that senior management will genuinely support social media participation for business purposes.
More than once, I’ve had to walk away because the C-suite really weren’t onboard and it saved a headache for all involved.
Social Media: What Do We Need To Do?
Let’s assume that all is well and your C-suite is game. Fantastic! This is when I put together a proposal that would include a policy, guidelines, training and ongoing support if required. The investment from the client will depend on:
- How extensively employees will participate in sharing on social media
- Existing social media policies and guidelines
- Size of organisation/ Employee number
- Availability of internal marketing resources
- Existing knowledge of social media marketing
As an example, I provide training for up to 8 employees with a limited understanding of using social media for business. This costs between £600-£800. More advanced training costs are a little higher.
If the company accepts my proposal, I work with the MD and/or a designated manager (usually a marketing or communications manager) to understand the current social media status in the company.
Are there existing social media accounts and if so, how well are they working at the moment?
Do employees use social media and are they engaging with their employer’s content?
If the company has an online presence, I analyse performance and highlight what’s working and what isn’t working.
I list the actions that will help close the gap between the current status and where the company wants to get to. These actions might include a policy refresh, basic and advanced training and developing strong personal brands for the leadership team.
Sales people using social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78% of their peers (Source)
Now that we have figured out what we are going to do, are we done?
You’ve guessed it: We are not done. In many ways, we have only started. Many companies spend a lot of time analysing and planning, watching the list of actions and nice-to-haves get longer and longer. It could become difficult to move into action.
When I have a good understanding of actions that can make improvements to my client’s brand, I work on implementing their bespoke policy and delivering training that empowers employees to use social media effectively. This is crucial. I’ve come across policies that are heavily restrictive hence, demotivating employees from taking part in building an organisation’s brand.
Social Media: Smart Sceptic® Framework
I use my Smart Sceptic® Framework to ensure that my clients are getting the best start to social media. This framework summarises the essence of successful social media programs. The detail of this framework can be found in my book mentioned at the beginning of this blog. In summary, agreeing shared values with senior leaders and getting their support to embed those values is a key starting point. It ensures that employees feel affirmed and hence, they are more likely to be motivated to participate in social media for the business.
Content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brand channels (Source)
The next step is to create a social media strategy that works for the business. The strategy should be based on the company’s values and it should support business goals. Research shows that experimentation is a big part of successful social media programs. Don’t be afraid to test your strategy with early adopters in your organisation. Experimentation can be controlled by using one social channel or a group of 5 employees, for instance. Having a group of early adopters that understand the policy and can guide others allows me to adequately handover social media participation to an in-house team when the time comes.
Finally, we move into action. Drumming up participation means resourcing the team. There must be a focal point for social media queries. It is important to equip the teams responsible for making social media a success. Train them, support them and recognise them.
Social Media: Taking Sustainable Action
Sometimes, companies want to keep me on a retainer basis. As part of a retainer service, I’d get monthly updates on social media progress and goals. Working closely with the MD and internal team, I would deliver refresher training on topics such as content creation and personal branding on social media. I am also part of the content creation team and available to be the focal point for employees when they have questions or require one-on-one support.
Retainers range from £350-£1,000 per month depending on support needs, contract length and the size of the company.
To make good progress, there needs to be sustained and deliberate efforts to build a participative culture. This takes time.
Related Blog: Employee Social Media Advocacy Stats & Examples
In research with companies like IBM, Dell and Cisco, marketing managers admitted that this could take as much as 18 months. So don’t give up too soon. Social media is worth getting right. Let me know if I can help.