One area that even the most prepared companies face is how to maintain their ideals and identity as their social reach grows. The problem of balancing adaptation with brand consistency is not a new one – new ventures have always faced new challenges. However, due to the relatively new world of social media, the problem has been compounded, and may seem insurmountable without insight into how to proceed when you have laid your social foundations.
There are three key steps to ensuring that your business doesn’t get lost in the endless sea of direct competition that social networks have become.
Step 1: You Need To Have a Plan
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
As much as social media content lives in specific moments, and has limited visibility, it is not a realm that any business should enter into lightly. Social media requires a genre-specific approach that should be understood for what it is – another marketing avenue. This means that although the way content is delivered is different, the way you portray your brand should be in line with your existing process.
Start with market research and determine whether or not you can afford to engage in a digital space. Although there are no costs associated with using social profiles in your private capacity, you will have to invest a substantial amount to reach your audience, particularly with the drive towards paid reach.
Step 2: You Need Direction
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” ― Zig Ziglar
You would never enter a campaign blindly, and if you decide that you can afford it, your process for social integration should be thorough. Conduct market research and gather as much information about your target market as possible. Then, create a content strategy that factors in your goals in terms of community numbers, how many times you will be posting per week, and overarching themes. Be sure to include plans for special events such as holidays or sporting events.
The implementation phase should also make provision for sudden events. The best social content leverages relevant world events in order to spark interest and conversation. Your ability to build and implement posts and updates almost instantly could mean the difference between social success, and failure.
Step 3: You Need the Right Staff
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
– Henry Ford
Naturally, even the best planning will fall flat if you don’t have staff needed to make those visions a reality. Effective social media requires staff with a specific skills set. A community manager is an individual who is employed to ensure that interactions and feedback are moderated, but more often than not, they are tasked with creating the posts that will carry your brand. Look for someone with good linguistic skills, a flair for design, and an unmatched work ethic. Community managers will often be expected to respond to small crises at unusual hours. Remember that your brand rests in their hands.
A natural extension of having the right staff is to ensure that they are adequately connected, through mobile data systems and high-performance bandwidth. Again, this may mean you incur additional costs, but investing in technology that helps you protect and grow your company is money well spent.
Step 4: Maintain Core Values
The last element in effectively maintaining your brand’s online identity is to find a balance between matching trends, and staying true to your company’s values. The tension between progress and maintenance has caused many brands to falter on social networks, as the pressure on community managers pushes them to breaking point.
In order to avoid these concerns, it is essential that you have a clear roadmap for your brand that outlines not only the direction you wish to take, but also the characteristics that make your brand what it is. All businesses, regardless of size and industry, have an identity that is uniquely their own. These fundamental – who you are as a business – should guide you in every social interaction, planned or spontaneous.
This, it seems, is where social media returns to business basics. When you find the paradoxes and challenges of the space to be overwhelming, always remember that the social sphere is merely an extension of what you have already been doing.