Should my brand go Social?

Social Media channel advertising users

Is your business embracing social media? AgencyUK managing director Sammy Mansourpour shares his top tips on how to create a successful social media strategy.

Most brands by now will have dabbled in the social media space to some degree, particularly those which are consumer facing. But surprisingly very few still manage to get it right, which is probably why others just shy away. The thought of having an “always on” / “live forever” marketing initiative for many business leaders is still daunting; without the dedicated manpower and a supportive business case it can be a risky prospect.

I’ve worked with a host of brand and marketing directors who have been determined to get their social strategy right, and there are a number of simple steps that can help you get on the right track. But first it’s important to acknowledge that if your brand has a market, it probably already has a social audience in one shape or another. So it’s entirely up to you if you want to take part in the conversation.

We can start with the three most common ways that brands and businesses are applying their social media strategy.

1. As a sales engine

Powered by an “open source” customer database, which helps you push promotions and offers. This often goes hand in hand with social media advertising, and is fast becoming known as Social Commerce.

2. To help facilitate customer services

Dell and many other tech firms lead the way here. It can be tremendously effective, showcasing your customer support in a public forum, whilst also acknowledging your brand is fallible, therefore human. People buy in to that.

3. For research and development

Product development and launches through social communities – with the intention of using them as a platform for beta testing and garnering feedback and data – has proved to be fast, cost effective and therefore lucrative. More companies are seeing social as a real time forum for product review.

So with this in mind, when deciding on how social may complement your brand effort, it is worthwhile and necessary to align it with a specific commercial objective. This invariably becomes the first step.

Applying a proactive approach to your social strategy

1. Define your commercial objectives, decide and agree what success looks like.

2. Assign a budget and an appropriate resource. Make it reasonable and fit for purpose. Social cannot be effectively managed off the side of someone’s desk.

3. Develop your strategy, and plan how you will deliver it. Use experts with a firm process and prior success. Document it. Share it and get stakeholder buy in.

4. Appoint expertise around the delivery. Executing a social strategy successfully requires a multitude of skills. Planning, content writing, analytics, reporting and ideas – lots and lots of ideas!

5. Test, learn and re-apply. The golden rule when playing a game that has no rules. Most social successes are a surprise. Planning provides you a framework to test your ideas within, but it will rarely give you the answer. That comes from engaging with people, seeing what works and how you can build on it.

6. Be creative. Ideas are what makes social go round and they are the only social currency worth investing in. So get the basics right, consistently deliver on them but never forget to be surprising. If you delight your social community, they will engage with you and make the effort to share.

We’ve been lucky enough to be involved with some huge social successes for brands, and the vast majority have been quite unexpected. But spotting the crest of a wave is fruitless if you don’t have an experienced team to help you ride it. So my final point is: never underestimate the knowledge acquired by professional social marketing teams today and don’t ever fear having to buy them in.

This article originally appeared on Insider Media on 11th September 2015.