Running a social media strategy is not this. A company that rushes into social media by just creating a facebook fan page or tweeting its' latest promotions and products will lose time and money, and will ultimately be disappointed.
1 - First thing to understand is the huge customer behaviour shift
We are in the middle of it. You, me, your friends & family. Just ask to a couple of persons if they use social media today. Majority of them will say no, but after discussing a bit, it appears to be a yes : they google, they visit forums, read comments, go on yahoo groups for having an answer to their own questions. They look for having advices and feedback before making a purchase, a small or an important one.
And this is a massive change compared to 10 years ago : a customer will almost know everything on a product before making the purchase act. And he learned that by himself on the social web, not by the seller in the shop or on the phone.
2 - Second important element is the recommendation chain
We are all part of it, and we all participate to it. If your neighbour explained that he had great time in a specific restaurant, there is an important probability that you have a dinner in this restaurant with your wife at a point of time. Recommendations have always been a key element for making a choice and a purchase.
Social Media is a huge platform for recommendations, on blogs, forums, groups, social networks, videos... and companies need to be part of this recommendation chain.
Will it make sense to know that customers discuss about YOUR product on a forum, and you don't do anything to listen to them, give advices ? Of course not...
So how to engage in social media ? A very useful and logical method provided by the Social Media Academy is called NCP : Network, Contribution and Participation.
3 - Engage methodically in the social web with NCP model
- Network : size of the network is important. Obviously the more the network is large and the more your voice will be listened, and balance needs to be found between quality & quantity - this will differ from anybody. Key words here are grow and measure your connections.
- Contribution is the 2nd aspect of the NCP model : how you have been able to feed your ecosystem. The way to measure it ? counting blog posts, counting video clips, events, questions, answers your provide...
- Participation through feedback is the 3rd element, and probably the most important because it represents the outcome of the first 2 ones. Number of comments, feedbacks on posts...
Being able to measure network, its contributions and participations by counting connections, views, comments, feedbacks... are key elements for engaging efficiently in the social web.