Social media as a marketing and communications tool is, on the grand scale of things, a relatively new medium. We often forget that even blogs, probably the oldest form of social media, have only been around in the mainstream for about 20 years, which is makes social media as a whole an infant compared to other platforms, such as TV or print.
Because of it’s youth, contributing a chunk of your organization’s resources, whether you’re an association, non-profit or small business, to social media is still seen by some as a risk. With risk comes reward, but also fear. We’ve tackled three common fears that many people have about using social media for their organization and how you can sweep those worries away.
No One Follows Your Organization’s Account
What To Do: Wait. Yep, it’s sometimes as simple as having a little bit more patience. Building a following takes time and while getting a lot of followers or likes or what have you is an important part of any social media marketing effort, it’s more important to pay attention to how well your content is at engaging your target audience. When you make smart connections and provide quality content, the following will, well, follow.
You should also take some action. Follow people with your organization’s account, but not just anyone; people who are influencers in your community or industry and who are likely to follow you back or at least interact with your content. Next, research what areas of the social media arena you should place your content. Much of this has to do with using one or two major hashtags consistently in conjunction with a variety of other hashtags to broaden your reach and appeal to as many people as you can.
Worst Case Scenario: Let’s say you do everything we mentioned above, waited a few months, connected with key people and put your content in all the right place, but your following still remains much lower than you hoped. This is the worst case.
In this scenario, there are two things you can do. The first is to retool your goals and strategy. If your account doesn’t have a lot of followers, but sees a lot of interaction and engagement, keep it up anyway and focus more on driving traffic to your website and producing really great content. If your account isn’t meeting its goals in any way, shape or form, the other option is to shut it down. Don’t consider it a failure or a sign not to try other types of social media. See it as feedback from your members, customers or target audience that say you should focus on other areas. Take the resources you spent on that one account and throw it behind another social media venture or to enhance another, more successful platform.
A Negative Comment Is Posted and Seen By All
What To Do: This is the one that’s probably been asked of us the most; what happens when a customer, member, client, etc posts a negative comment to your account and is seen by the world? Well, in a perfect world no one would have any criticism about your organization, but this isn’t a perfect world; you can’t please everyone and someone could speak out about their bad experience or perception of your organization.
The key to jumping over this hurdle is to see it as a chance to grow make a good impression on your audience. First, approach the critic politely and professionally. Try as hard as you can to rectify the problem and provide great customer service. Use the criticism as a jumping off point for a discussion. When people see your level of respect, your desire to get things right and the possibility that their voices will be heard and acted upon, it reflects very positively on your organization and improves everyone’s perception of you moving forward.
Worst Case Scenario: The ultimate worst case scenario around this issue would be if a massive backlash happened against your organization online around a decision, initiative, event or comment. To be quite honest, if this happens, you have bigger problems than what it happening with your social media. If this is the scenario, it means your organization has made a massive mistake and must use all platforms available to rectify it and gain back the trust of your audience. This isn’t the time to abandon social media. Use it as a valuable way to reach out to people, target a solution and communicate to your following that the solution or solutions are being enacted and are working to solve the problem.
The Time Put In Doesn’t Match the Return
What To Do: This fear has to do with the ever-elusive return on investment involved in managing social media for your organization. There is little truth in the idea that determining social media ROI is a fool’s errand. We’ve covered this in detail in many blog posts (like this one and this one), but we understand that the bottom line is of the utmost importance for any organization, whether it’s for-profit or non-profit and thus this is a legitimate fear. However, this one way we’ve found most successful in solving the problem of too many resources going out and not enough coming back your way.
The most common work-around for this issue is to reframe your thinking. Again, we’ve covered the ways in which you can view social media ROI in previous blog posts, but the gist of all those posts is this; social media is rarely going to bring money through the door directly. Therefore, you need to see it first a funnel linking your audience to potential revenue streams and then as a way to continually engage those audience members once you’ve caught them once. When this is your goal, you can measure social media ROI much better and will probably see that your resources are being well used.
Worst Case Scenario: If you’ve reframed your thinking/goals and worked on a strategy based on your new targets, but still are seeing an imbalance in the ROI column, you’ve arrived at the worst case scenario. This is a situation in which all the work, money, time and energy you’ve put in is yielding few to no results. There are a couple ways to go about turning the tide of this losing battle.
The first is to be smarter with your resources. Measures like creating an editorial calendar, crowdsourcing content or scheduling posts are all ways to cut back on your resources spent while seeing the same or, in many cases, better results. The second way to take on the challenge is to pair your social media efforts with more traditional methods of marketing. For example, advertise your online efforts on business cards, email signatures, magazine covers, brochures, vehicles and any other place you can think of. Put some time and effort in generating word of mouth around your social media channels. Once you have expanded your reach, the audience and interaction will slowly but surely pick up and your quality content can take it from there.