Can You Really ‘Catch Up’ in Social Media?

By Jake Wengroff
Global Director of Corporate Communications
Frost & Sullivan

A Google search on the terms “social media” yields 588,000,000 results. With all of the blogposts, tweets, videos, podcasts, and conversations, how is anyone supposed to keep up? Better yet, for those companies that have barely scratched the surface—if at all—how is anyone supposed to start?

The good news is that we’re all learning about social media—what works and what doesn’t—and as the space evolves and new tools emerge, even the most seasoned social media marketer or strategist cannot lay claim to know it all.

Additionally, for companies that have barely created their social footprint, there exists a plethora of information available for review, plus the opportunity to absorb what’s already been tried and true, so as to make the best decisions and create the right mix of initiatives for social media success.

Accept the Fact That There is a Content Deluge

Every minute, 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, 36,000 tweets are posted on Twitter, and 600,000 pieces of content (Web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared on Facebook. To say there is a glut of content being created and published online would be a serious understatement. Some experts predict that in a few years, the information on the Internet will double every 72 hours.

These facts are not meant to frighten, but to inspire: there is no way that any one company can control the content on the Internet. As such, a company just starting out will understand that there can be no 100 percent complete ownership of media or mindshare within a particular industry—which means that there are low barriers to entry for getting content out there.

Imitation is Still the Most Sincerest Form of Flattery

When in doubt, look at what your biggest competitors are doing. As most social content is transparent, take a look at their Twitterstream, or their messages and links on their Facebook page, or how they are positioned when you search on LinkedIn. There may be things you like, or things you disagree with; this can give you impetus to think about how you would like your company to be presented on the social Web.

Go Back to School

Learn as much as you can, because as previously stated, no one is truly an expert. Surely, there are those who have had more time in the space, but their expertise may not necessarily be applicable to your company or your industry.

Attend as many free Webinars as possible, and watch as many presentations on social media as you can on SlideShare. While most of the content may seem general, you can have the opportunity to learn informally from various sources. In addition, the facilitators of Webinars and authors of presentations on SlideShare are generally receptive to questions; feel free to submit inquiries for further discussion.

Leverage Your Existing Vendor Relationships

If you have spent years in a marketing or communications role, you probably have engaged agencies on and off. Agencies are usually on the bleeding-edge of trends in marketing and communications, and can advise you on what strategy to take in social media. Traditional communications vendors such as PR Newswire and Cision (formerly Bacons Media Map) can provide some direction, as their traditional offerings—press releases or clipping services—have been repurposed by social media.

You probably are also familiar with traditional website analytics tools or services. These providers can also provide insights, as website pageviews—for example, the number of views a blogpost received—can be one of your first metrics to measure success of a social media campaign.

Loneliness Is Not Good

According to Frost & Sullivan research, social media needs to be a joint effort among several departments in order to be effective. Social media usually falls to the corporate communications or marketing departments, but others within an organization would find value by joining a task force to drive social media efforts—sales, customer service, administration, product development/research, operations, and even the C-suite. Social media touches more than just promotion; it can be used to reach out to communities for new product ideas, identify dissatisfied customers, communicate effectively with employees, and several other functions. As a social media manager at your company, others you normally don’t work with will seek you out for guidance and collaboration.

Create a Safe Haven for Mistakes

Don’t be afraid to mess up. Making mistakes is a natural part of implementing and continuing an effective social media program. Tweets or messages can be quickly deleted and replaced. A campaign to shout out to the world that your company is participating in a particular conference may or may not deliver the response you intended. This is all expected, as you develop the right mix of efforts to deliver the results that matter.

Learn more about social media’s convergence with marketing at the 12th Annual Marketing World, 2011: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. Read more relevant articles in Frost & Sullivan’s Sales & Marketing quarterly eBulletin.

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