3 Steps to Managing Social Media Expectations

About six months ago, many companies were debating whether or not they should jump into the social media fray. These days, it is not a matter of “if,” but is instead a given.

Unfortunately, some companies, despite otherwise smart business practices, don’t always consider the full scope when putting together a social media marketing plan, such as how it should fit into the complete marketing mix and interact with other components within that mix. At the core of every good plan is a clear set of expectations. Like any other expectations, they should be realistic. Here’s three to consider:

1. Set a target goal. Do you want 10,000 fans on Facebook? Are you hoping for 100,000 Twitter followers? Okay, fine. Does your brand support that level of a base? If not, you might want to reconsider. Set your expectations to a realistic level. It may only be 1,000 fans in a six month period, then once you reach that goal, reset it. Aim for the sky, but develop milestones along the way, and tie your marketing program into those goals to hep meet expectations.

2. This is not “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, they will not necessarily come unless there is a bridge of support and a path that leads them there. If you are not satisfied with the level of an online community you’ve built, check what you are doing to support the growth. It could be something very basic such as adding a Join Our Fan Page button to your email blasts. If you build it, they will come–if you make it easy for them. In fact, add your fan page URL to your email signatures–which should be a vanity url, by the way. Treat the fan page or Twitter page like you would your website. Promote your pages, and target ads and promotions to help funnel traffic there.

3. Are you not getting the level of interactions you want? Well then, are you selling or connecting? Too many companies and brands make the mistake of ABC: Always be closing. Just as Social Media is not “Field of Dreams” it is also not “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Don’t overwhelm (or burden) your audience with sales promotions. Nothing is more boring than a constant pitch in your Facebook newsfeed or Twitter stream. It’s so easy to hide–or delete–a page these days that you don’t want to risk that. So ask questions, offer up interesting tips or information about your product or industry, and yes, promote along the way. The ratio, depending on who you talk to ranges from 50% conversation/50% promotion to 80% conversation/20% promotion. Stay within those boundaries and you should be able to build rapport and community.

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