The word crisis can be overused but it certainly applies to the situation the world currently finds itself in, with the Coronavirus pandemic.
The impact of COVID-19 on the economy in the short, medium and long-term will be significant, and businesses’ reactions and strategies for weathering the storm are wide-ranging.
One of the strategies that more savvy businesses and organisations are adopting is social business. A robust and consistent social business policy and its implementation is proving to be a powerful tool in helping get through the crisis and as we move out of lockdown and towards the ‘new’ normal.
What is social business
As we have blogged before, social media is a technology delivering tools which enable a conversation between people, no matter where they are on the planet. But the term social media doesn’t cover any plan or strategy. It is merely the action of, for example, posting a photo of your cat, your breakfast, your latest selfie and moving on. You dip in and out as you please.
Social business uses the same technology but here the similarity ends. Social business is a process that involves consistency, commitment, budget, technology and people. It requires an organised, measured and planned approach. With these elements in place, it offers real value to a business or organisation, and not just as we emerge from this crisis but at any time. To paraphrase, social business is for life and not just for Christmas!
Budget and people
First, budget. As a business you will have a marketing budget and in this budget it is essential to include social business. This may be your own time spent on social media, your colleagues’ or you may outsource it. Whatever your approach, it is still an investment on which you place a monetary value, and this must be built into your expenditure plan.
Secondly people. Do you use your own people to handle your social media, do you do it yourself, do you employ someone, or do you outsource. Again, whatever option you choose, it isn’t enough to ‘do’ social business – that way you are only ‘doing’ social media. Whoever handles your social business must have an understanding of its purpose and measure its impact.
At Visually Explained, we’d argue that the most effective route for social business, and indeed the most cost-effective, is to outsource. That way, you get experts handling your social business and tracking its results.
The social business process
First you need to go through some of the basics:
WHY – describes the purpose of your business’s existence, your mission and vision and the value you bring to your clients.
WHAT – is all about your product and services.
WHO – is all about your ideal client (you might have more than one).
This information informs the copy and content of your website, and it will also be the basis of your social business content. Your website is your shop, which is updated with all your new products, services, company news, blogs, case studies, etc. The aim of your social business is to drive people towards your shop, by starting a conversation with them and engaging their interest.
Ensure you align your social business with your business’s goals and put Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place to track its effectiveness.
Using people power
The people in your business represent a huge asset for your social business strategy. Most will already have a social media presence, and you can harness this by asking your people to share and like your posts. This requirement should form one strand of your Business Social Media Policy.
Ensure your Business Social Media Policy also covers boundaries for your people and has a nominated social media spokesperson, who oversees activity. There should be only one person who holds the login credentials to your business social media platforms, and who is authorised to release content and comments.
Content versus engagement
The world of social media has changed dramatically over the past ten years. We create so much content that sometimes it is really difficult to find or see the things that interest us.
Social business isn’t all about firing out content. It is about having a process that enables you to build your audience, engage with them, post content they find interesting, and check the levels of engagement to ensure you are still on point.
Set a time limit for your business social media activity and stick to it. This will enable you to be consistent, and consistency is key.
Remember, not everything will go viral, so try not to get frustrated and keep going. You will reap the benefits in time.
Return on Investment
Content is no longer King – it is more like a Baron. It is now engagement who is the King and who to engage with is determined by your business’s target market (your ‘Who’), and your 5-10 years sustainability vision.
Never underestimate the space your business occupies in the social media world. Remember, if you stop being active your space will quickly be filled by your competitors no matter if they’re an existing or a start-up business. Maintain your social business presence no matter if we are in a time of prosperity or economic disruption.
So what is the Return on Investment (the ROI) of social business? If you are still trying to measure it in pound/dollar signs, you are missing the point and undermining its real value and potential. The ROI of social business is your business’s sustainability over the next 5-10 years.
So how to harness the power of social media in business: here are the main points to remember:
- Know your WHY WHAT WHO – check that your website conveys this
- Remember that social business is a journey not a destination – don’t get frustrated but keep going. Consistency is key.
- Create a clear social business policy so you can get the value from involving your employees.
- Remember: 60% engagement and 40% content
- The ROI of social business is measured in the business sustainability, not in pounds.
- Stay authentic and true to your business values.
If you would like to find out more about social business, and how the Visually Explained team can help you implement a policy, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.