Beware the Keystone Cops approach to social media

Four red lights the social media strategist encounters on a regular basis

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EDMONTON, AB Aug 14, 2015/ Troy Media/ – The Keystone Cops were fictional incompetent policemen who appeared in many great silent-film comedies. But when I refer to the Keystone Cops approach to social media I am talking about a lack of coordinated social media tactics performed with great zeal on behalf of your company. In other words, nobody really understands what’s happening or gets where it’s all going.

“I see people doing tactics before setting up distribution networks,” says Olivier Taupin who owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members. Olivier believes it’s better to first establish the proper mindset for social business as part of an overall strategy.

Here’s three more red lights the social media strategist encounters on a regular basis.

  • We have an event in two weeks and need a Twitter campaign to fill the room.” Alarmingly, this is a familiar call. Unfortunately, the company has insufficient followers.
  • My company doesn’t have a social media plan but I’m pretty good.” Yes, individuals may have connections here and there on various networks but the overall company is entirely disconnected. “The future belongs to the corporation that recognizes its strength is the sum of personal brands belonging to all who work there,” predicts Olivier.
  • Hiring a social media manager to do it all does not work. If you assign all responsibility for social media to a single person, “You are setting up the social media manager for failure.” You might want to call the position a social media coordinator since it is not possible for one individual to do it all.

Confusion also reigns if social media is not aligned with the corporate vision, mission, and strategic objectives. If departments are constantly tripping over each other, the promise of your brand becomes an empty pledge. Worse, a brand can derail.

Sales Bench Index (SBI) echoes this message in How to make your number in 2016. This insightful report advised that, in 2001, “57 per cent of the buyer journey was complete before a salesperson was actively involved in the process. By 2015, this number had reached 69 per cent.” Content marketing did not work so well and neither did social selling or free trials – if these strategic plans masqueraded as strategy because departments were working in isolation.

“It’s time to set up a collaborative group drawn from key departments,” says Olivier. “Social media is everybody’s business,” which means that representation comes from sales, marketing, operations, customer support, IT, and HR.

Before you start, here’s some guiding principles.

  1. Train your employees and then trust them. Update employees, deliver general information materials, send event hashtags and photos for sharing to employees together with corporate identity logos.
  2. Link everybody. CEOs are linked to their direct report and one level lower. All employees are linked to their team lead who make up the umbrella group for social media. This helps the entire company know what each other is saying and doing in the networks.
  3. We’re all receptionists, emphasizes Olivier, which means employees at all levels become the eyes and ears of the company. Where responsibilities previously were assigned to a single individual, “we’re all part of it.”

Now you’re ready for the 7-Point Setup Plan

  1. Conduct an audit. Learn which networks your employees have joined on behalf of the company, determine their activity level, and whether messages are aligned.
  2. Form a collaborative social media team with department heads to build an aligned and coordinated social media strategy.
  3. Set up personal profiles on selected networks for all executives who don’t have accounts, including the CEO and members of the board.
  4. Set up the company page on LinkedIn.
  5. Position the Twitter account with an individual rather than the corporate logo.
  6. Set up profiles on LinkedIn for everyone in your business unit. If you have 100 people in a business unit, you have 100 LinkedIn profiles on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
  7. Ensure that everyone is linked together through the social media coordinator appointed by the collaboration team.

Next up: Build connections, followers and fans on each of the social channels.

Communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a print business magazine for 21 years. She now works to assist clients in digital marketing.

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