A segment of a social network

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I work with a variety of clients. Some of them simply want a Twitter or Facebook set up, others want an actual social media campaign. The clients who simply want one of those networks running get just what they ask for- the other guys? They work with me to supply content and optimize their websites and let me work with their web teams to create landing pages so I can actually convert the communities they want me to build!

But before you can get into running a full on campaign you really do need your ducks in a row — you need a solid foundation for your social networks including a strong post policy, content schedule, and a single message / point of view / voice.

This week I had the pleasure of building just such a foundation for two of my major clients. When my firm came in to the scene both of these clients had their social networks registered and were doing what most businesses do at first: someone or several someone’s at their offices was asked to “make updates” to their social networks. These updates were unsurprisingly sporadic, often off message and generally lacking in any consistency whatsoever.

Their numbers were in the toilette and they were driving no traffic to their site, but rather than throw in the towel they decided to ask the important question, “Why isn’t this working and how can we do it right?” (That’s a question I ask myself, by the way, and every marketer should not be afraid to be self-critical when they aren’t getting the desires results)

So, I stepped in, looked at the companies previous analytics and found what type of posts their fans responded to most and thought about what caused these reactions. Using that “actionalble data” I drew up a specific post policy working from a pre-written template I generally keep handy. For most corporations (most, not all) the following template works almost without fail:

Post five times a week, once every week day.

Include 1 educational post which reminds users what the company is or does.

Include 1 discussion piece in which the company takes a position on a given issue which is derived from their mission statement.

Include 1 outside link to anything relevant to either the company or their fans to demonstrate connectedness to the brand’s community at large.

Include 1 shareable media post such as video or images.

Include 1 sales message directing users to a landing page, product or website which is optimized to allow users to spend their money right then, right there.

The point of this generic post policy is that it emphasises familiarity and engagement with a corporation so that when a sales message is sent users are prepared to respond to it- kind of like a micro-version of lead nurturing.

Its also important that these posts all filter through one final editor (usually your social media director who eats, sleeps, lives and breaths on-point messaging and community development) so that each post can be evaluated resulting in consistent voice & style, avoiding two competing concepts of what the company’s message may be (no two people think exactly alike) and so that the final editor can weave a consistent story over multiple posts.

So how did this work out for my clients? Well… I’ve done this type of thing before- but never with national brands. On a local business level post consistency and a solid policy can help you slowly build a following and show a steady drip of new activity on your social networks. When you combine pre-existing brand recognition with a dynamic post policy which takes the brand’s unique user expectations into account? It was a flood.

Triple digit increases in new likes, new activity and site traffic across the board for both of these clients. This resulted not only a good pat on the back from my boss, but also new opportunities for our firm. After demonstrating to these clients that we could, with some minor tweaking and good planning, show them measurable returns from social media they opened up to us and allowed us to expand our campaign. In short we got their trust- and your client’s trust is in the end way more valuable than their monthly checks.

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