Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. There! I have uttered the holy words before I begin and hopefully now, I can steer clear off most clichés about digital media. I like you dear reader, having been bored to death (literally on one occasion) by rehashed garbage on digital media best practices. Written usually in poor English with no sense of text formatting whatsoever, most of the drivel discourages me from implementing the seemingly trite advice than embracing it!
I have, therefore compiled a list of practical advice, simple perspectives, a nudge here and a fix there, so you can think about what your social media has been doing for you and what it can really do. Of course most of it has worked really well for our own outfit and we have been in business and thriving for around four years now!
The thing is, first understand why you are doing any of this at all? Really do understand your goals first. Goals are different from expectations. List what you want. Is it Awareness or Advocacy? Product adoption or Attracting talent? Is it pure lead generation, just sales (but why?) or a mix of all and more of these? Define your goals and rank them first. Now let’s begin.
Make your blog the repository of cool
I am not saying the word content so listen. Do you know your consumer? Do you know them well enough to yourself be the consumer? Well you shouldn’t be in the start-up scene if you don’t, but that’s for another day. The idea is know your consumer so well that you can make your blog one of the coolest places on the internet for them.
- Put product features of other things your customers want to buy. I would put the best sites to make infographics if marketing managers were my customers even if my company had nothing to do with graphs and charts. Put pictures of a party you threw for your first few users (and share from there). Develop an app for something that is trending in the lives of your customers if you can. Ask them to write stories and make them famous within their own user community.
- It could be anything actually, just tell your customers that you really like them and that you truly get them. To the world at large you will be known as a truly customer focussed company at best and a crazy one at worst. Not bad at all!
Is your Google+ account sorted?
- Bit of a hygiene advice here. Why is Google+ important? Well for a number of reasons. Firstly and rather monopolistically, Google (surely) gives an SEO advantage to websites liked to a well updated Google+ account. Secondly you will get all sorts of rather unfair advantage like getting your picture next to your company blog link, have your company show up on local, location listing without almost any SEO/SEM work, does tiny in-mail marketing things when you send someone a mail from your Google app mail account and much more.
- See Google might not care about not being evil anymore, but I say if you can use it to your advantage, you must.
- The internet for most people starts from Google and for you as the content creator Google starts with Google+ they have made sure, so stop mistaking it for another social media channel and learn what it can do and use it. Use it well.
Don’t outsource social media. Really Don’t!
- This will be clearer and clearer as you read through but this is something we have all fallen prey to. The temptation is to think that social media or digital marketing is some complicated thing requiring domain expertise or people with some sort of certificate. At its simplest and the most effective it can’t be farther from the truth.
- Your social media agency is not you. They don’t know your customers well enough, neither your product, they don’t feel the same way about your company nor do they see opportunity like you do.
- Outsourced agency means almost zero trial and error and lack of initiative to go any extra mile than the set scope. It goes against being nimble, against experimentation, effective social listening, collecting leads or opportunities and drowns authenticity. For the big companies it’s OK because they don’t need to be so quick on their feet (usually) while our survival depends on it. No one can see the world and interact with it like you and your first few employees can. Till the time you are small keep it that way.
Founders, Partners and Employees are the best marketers
- Now the question is who will man this seemingly endless parade of social media channels? Surely you need an agency to manage your various pages. Nope.
- If you and your employees live your company, your product and your brand, it’s no trouble at all. Make key employees, and other partners ‘hold the fort’ at the social media channel of their choice. Have your support and operations head been active on Quora and your marketing lead hyper on Linked-in. Get your design head go obsessive on Pinterest while your BD head can turn Slideshare into her playground. It should be like using one’s own social media account. Use appropriate company mentions if they are using their personal accounts and there is no trouble at all. Let them be themselves there and your users, customers and influencers will love it for the conversations they generate.
Use Videos because they are awesome
Learn from social media:
Very often on the drive to create a good social media presence, companies forget the very reason to be social. Yes driving SEO, generating leads is paramount, but so is learning from the networks. There genuinely is an opportunity to not just learn about leads or potential customers on social media but product development ideas, new customer segments, find mentors, come across new opinions and genuinely learn about what’s happening. We often consider social media as an in-to-out channel, but its more. Broadcasting and even listening is one part of it, learning and collaborating is the other.
Forging Evangelist Groups
We have already heard enough blah on blogger outreach. I am not dissing it, in fact I say embrace it. But there’s more to evangelist outreach programs. For example I don’t think we are using local groups and meet ups of start-up folks, technologists, and aspiring tecno-prenuers enough. One search of all the Meetups happening in Pune or Bangalore will show how many people are connected around their common goal of starting up. As a start up company we can support these groups, organise their meetings and even organise more such meetups of this passionate and social media friendly lot. Have them generate conversations about you in return and you will be multiplying your PR like never before.
Get a good designer. REALLY.
Indian folks this is must. Front end is usually the most important thing. Yes it is. It’s the make or break. Hire a great designer and listen to her. I am not saying hire someone with a degree in user experience or experience in such. Browse through Behance, search local design schools (of any persuasion) or ask in your friends’ network. If you think you have seen someone’s work which you think is genuinely cool, out there, funky or whatever you call out of the ordinary work, call them. At least meet them over for a coffee and ask them what they think about your product, packaging, promotions, platform or website. They might just save your business.
Effective use of mobile is a great tool for content generation and even core functions like support and sales. Making a site responsive and advertising on devices is important sure but there’s more to mobile than that. Are all your sales or support employees connected through WhatsApp with their customers or with each other? Do your frontline support employees active on Twitter, Instagram or Quora?
Digital Media is a company philosophy:
The last word on effective use of digital and social media is that an entire organisation needs to be geared around it. Someone said ‘Marketing is too important to be left to the Marketing managers alone’; absolutely the same goes for social media. Hire people adept on new media and create an organisational strategy around social and digital media, not just an independent social media strategy. Sales, product development, support and HR have all to gain from going social and digital from which your organisation as a whole stands to benefit.