Sunday, 25 November 2012

How To Formulate A Social Media Strategy-Checklist


  The Questions You Should Be Asking

Social media as a marketing tool is pretty powerful, but too often do smaller businesses set up accounts because it’s what expected of them. No matter what the size of the company is, everyone should have a strategy in place before they begin otherwise their new venture will lose steam before it even begins. If you’re starting to develop a presence online, or you just want a checklist, here are a number of questions you should answer when you’re putting your plan together.

1.What Do I Hope To Achieve?
It’s pointless to be using social media if you only have it because everybody else does. For any strategy to work, there must be an overall goal in place. Is it to drive sales, improve customer service, create new connections and business leads, or just a way to reach out to customers? If you don’t have an aim, then you won’t be able to formulate a strategy. And if you don’t have a strategy or commit to one, the enthusiasm you have at the beginning will wane off and you’ll have nothing to keep you going. Before you dive in to the social media bandwagon headfirst asking yourself "What for"- what do you want to achieve out of your efforts! If you have that set and clearly spelt out; let us move to number two.

2.Who Do I Want To Communicate With?
Linking back to the first point, what your aims are relate to the type of company you run. Whether your company focuses on B2B or B2C will help you determine what type of demographic you’re aiming for. Do you want your audience to be mainly business people, shoppers, marketers, or smartphone users to name a few? While there’s nothing to say that you can’t reach out to everyone, it’s better to have a core audience that you can build upon. You need to know who your target audience will be and in what platforms as this will guide you when creating the social media content plan and maintenance schedule in platforms you will be using to achieve your objectives.

3.Which Platform(s) Should I Use?
Many businesses will set up an account on Facebook since it’s the most popular, but there are a number of different ways to connect with your audience and each site or app has its own strengths you should take into consideration.
Facebook might be the most popular place and is the easiest to run app competitions, but Twitter offers a quick and snappy method of communicating, LinkedIn lets you connect directly with professionals, Foursquare lets you reward people for visiting your outlet and Instagram & Pinterest is great if you want to show off products and services. How you’re going to interact with your audience will matter.
One thing you should avoid is adding too many accounts as you’ll end up being overwhelmed by it. Preferably, you shouldn’t have more than three accounts if there’s only one person handing things as adding any more will make the workload unmanageable.

4.How Much Time Can You Commit To This?
The big question for a lot of companies investing in social media. Work schedules are busier than ever and in the case of smaller companies, social media may be added on top of existing duties and increasing the workload. Essentially, if you can’t find the time to properly engage and do it consistently, you probably shouldn’t be using social media. Social media is almost a 24/7/365 job so you need to have adequate & qualified human resource to manage your brand presence in all platforms you are participating in.
If it’s possible, reduce the workload by assigning different channels to each of your staff, or assign days to your staff for when they’re responsible for social media duties. Different companies require different approaches so find out what works best for you or better still let me help you with this.

5.How Will This Fit Into Our Schedule?
The last thing any business wants is for staff to be distracted from their main duties, which is where time management comes into play. Have you scheduled social media time? In most cases you might need to keep engaging fans to show you are actually listening. For the most part, you should be able to take an hour out of your schedule each day to focus on social media duties, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken in the one go. Maybe work it so that you dedicate 15 minute segments to social media during working hours, monitoring and updating when things are less hectic. If you’re not keeping updating regularly and consistently, you’re not giving people a reason to follow you. You've got to be PRESENT & let your presence be felt by your community on social media.

5.What Kind Of Tone Should I Adapt?
How you present yourself is important and what you say and post will show how you come across. If you’re using socialmedia as customer service, you will need to adapt a formal tone when communicating, but if you’re promoting yourself, there’s no harm in trying to inject some humour into your posts. However kindly ensure the communication is uniform across platforms, the look and feel of your presence across networks has to be easily recognizable by the public. This is critical for both personal and corporate brands! 

6.How Will I Measure Progress?
The main benefit of social media is that you can measure just how well your accounts are doing. You need to have tools or ways of measuring the ROI of your social media efforts. Also, choosing which metrics to value is important as some can be seen as vanity metrics which don’t provide a lot of insight.
analytics and insights on the number of active fans, followers, hits  and  interaction matrix, fan demographics and usage breakdown.The metric tools you use should be able 
to look at the overall performance of your business on social media, the success should not just be determined by how many fans the page attracts & number of followers on Twitter (although that is a useful benchmark, I feel that it would be a narrow and specific way to measure success) but I advise you to measure your success of our social media efforts by looking at:
   1.Fan and follower interactions, level of engagement and feedback received.
   2.Reach of message, content, number of engaged users and conversions.
   3.Level of influence across the platforms we are participating in.
   4.Use the growth of the audience as a key performance indicator.
   5.Number of hits on your digital properties and referring URL’s. If much of the traffic is from social media sites then that shows your presence is good.

  Looking at specific metrics in isolation won’t tell you much, but taking a few together will give you a clearer picture of what works.

7.How Does This Tie Into My Overall Strategy?

While social media is very useful as a marketing tool, it should be viewed as part of an overall marketing strategy. Will you be treating it as a separate entity or will you be tying it in with other campaigns and marketing opportunities. As mentioned earlier, different social media channels offer different opportunities so when you’re planning a large-scale campaign, plan with these features as part of the experience instead of just tacking an obligatory Facebook link to it. You need to ensure your efforts on social media complements your PR, media and experiential marketing efforts. You have a customer service charter? How does social media help you achieve that commitment? You want to reach out to more customers and grow revenue? then how does social media fit into that strategy? You want to expand to new markets? how will this work for you?

8.Do I Have Guidelines That Staff Can Follow?

 If you’re allowing staff to run your social media accounts, it’s a good idea to put together a social media policy so that it’s clear what acceptable and what isn’t. These guidelines don’t have to be complicated, just provide a few ground rules that are easy to follow so there’s no confusion. Furthermore you need to also lay out a maintenance schedule with details of who and when should be posting and engaging the audience on social media. You need a team here, creatives to generate sticky visual content, video content is crucial too not just updates full of text!

Did you like this post? If so please follow us on Twitter @KenyanMarketer @SocialPROclubs & share this post with your friends. Thanks!

 If you would like some help with formulating your social media strategy,  review or audit of your current strategy and analysis do not hesitate to contact me on 0724215977 or write to me through (Muthurikinyamu@gmail.com/ Nateford@socialedge.co.ke)
 
I'd love to be of help to you.
 
Muthuri Kinyamu



Monday, 12 November 2012

Social Media For Universities; What’s in it for them?



How Social Media Can Enhance Learning In Higher Education
Social media is transforming the way the world does business, the platforms provide a great way to connect online, share information, gain valuable feedback, and build relationships as well as network. Today the implications are huge and the prizes are enormous for those businesses & individuals who handle it right. Let’s face it; social media is here to stay, it’s not a fad neither a ‘thing’ for teenagers anymore!
However we haven't seen local universities embrace social media and integrate it to teaching leave alone introduce units that tackle various disciplines of this new media. At Social Edge Africa we are very passionate about changing and making learning more fun in universities through SocialPRO clubs that we launched on the 25th of October 2012 at the University of Nairobi.
With the growth of social media usage, it is a fact that students check their Facebook and twitter accounts more often than before.
Universities need to recognize the opportunities in social media especially when it comes to the use of social networking sites. Our universities will gain more access to audiences (students, faculty, alumni, support staff etc) to share content or information through social media, something which would cost a lot more in the past.
This will change how students interact and engage with  members of the faculty, give feedback on what they are taught, ask questions and help lecturers share content (research findings, assignments, useful links, class notes and other relevant educational materials) across the various platforms. If members of faculty especially embrace and use social media to share content with the students, that will make learning more fun as content can be posted in creative formats that are consumable on mobile hence improve learning as they will not only understand but make sense of what they are being taught. It enhances universities to provide more information to the students, inspiring them to develop ideas, enhancing collaboration and therefore making them more innovative.
It will be possible for students to come together, discuss and interact and that takes learning out of the class room thus creates more opportunities to learning and teaching by simply harnessing the power of social media.
Students should no longer only use social media for managing their social life and expressing their identity but also use it as a platform where they can get more information on their areas of learning, share innovative ideas with other students from different universities, get to know what they think of the idea, ask for some advice on how that can be utilized and maybe apply the idea when the chance brings itself to light. That way, our students will be shaping the future of Kenya!
The growing use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer great educational opportunities. Lecturers and students should extend their communication outside the classroom. A dialogue between a lecturer and students can help students get immediate solutions to their education related queries instant rather than wait for the lecturer to be available another day for them to get their answers.
In the social networking sites, students can form education-oriented groups and put good use of social media to extend their informational and educational outreach rather than form ‘mchongowano’ groups to expose them to a full world of discovery on various topics outside the units or course one is pursuing.
There is so much potential in our social networks towards education as these platforms help students to work collaboratively across universities thus enhance sharing of course content, ideas, information and opportunities online.

Social media has the advantage of ease of access, portability of technology, simplicity, and freedom of speech and expression. By the use of social networking sites, students can reach their career goals faster and more easily than now. It will also educate students who have no idea or know very little concerning a particular field through the fact that they are interested in a certain subject in the field of learning. Some students are already using social media to improve their educational skills through activities like blogging.

We should thus urge or inspire students to be content creators online not just consuming and tapping into other people's minds and findings.
Universities can also use social media to promote specific events and get students to participate as guests, volunteer time in planning and assist in some way as this helps them equip themselves with more skills and network. 
With social media the university community can engage, participate and follow an event as its happening. Live video streaming can be done inexpensively these days, if that's technical, video footage can be edited and posted on the university site and shared across platforms, better still uploaded on YouTube or follow the event trough a common hashtag?
Through social media, universities can notify their students on latest developments, new hires, major events (partnerships, affiliations, conferences, and graduation), emergencies and tragedies easily and faster with a tweet and a Facebook post or message.
Universities should embrace a ‘less stuff, more content’ strategy. Days are coming when we will need textbooks less. Most of the content will be shared online for the students to easily access them.
Universities could make sure that they have a centralized Twitter and Facebook account that broadly covers the institutions, but particularly for larger schools, breaking up news feeds into smaller accounts for say, the business school and the law school, promotes allegiance and engages a more targeted audience.
Social media too provides universities with effective ways and opportunities for alumni networks to strengthen the bonds between the alumni and former institution, sporting club, college, university, and soforth.  Twitter and LinkedIn for example connects people across fields and businesses, making networking easier for everyone involved. So for alumni who might want to connect with others from their university for career or personal purposes, Twitter acts as a great connector.
It will be known how best this works or if it works by trying it out in our universities and letting the students say how best it works for them.
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