Social media presents a very significant opportunity for organisations to reach out and engage with people online. Social media is now mainstream and its use has increased massively in recent years. In UK and Ireland over 56 per cent of the population has a Facebook profile and sites such as Facebook and Twitter now play a very important part in people’s day-to-day communication with peers, friends and family.
However, the ability to use social media successfully presents a number of challenges for organisations not least in the areas of audience development, posting the right content and securing sufficient resources and skills to use social media effectively. Below I’ve dug deeper into the main social media challenges and how you can help improve your ability to use social media effectively.
1. Using social media to engage and interact
It’s tempting for organisations to use Facebook and Twitter to broadcast messages, updates and news. However, this style of communication fits poorly with the nature of social media. Social media channels are very different to broadcast media such as TV and radio which are fundamentally about broadcasting messages directly at audiences. Organisations and brands that use social media successfully engage with their social communities via interesting, useful content. Just as importantly, they are comfortable with asking people for feedback and answering their questions.
2. Creating and sharing great content
If you have received a Facebook post from family or friends, you are much more likely to share, like or comment on it if it has an emotional appeal. So the challenge for organisations is to create content that your social media community is going to engage with. For instance, a local council will find that having a steady stream of content from the following sources helps improve interaction on social media: videos or photos of community events, news updates, and surveys and questions on council issues.
Equally a charity is much more likely to engage via social media if it develops and shares contact that has an emotional appeal. For example, a series of posts based on a real life human interest story or encouraging feedback from their followers on a campaign.
3. Securing resources
Some of the most common problem areas around social media are linked to inadequate resourcing and include a lack of social media expertise among key staff, a lack of time to post updates and reply to comments, and having no budget for social media.
Organisations need to consider how adequately resourced they are for managing social media effectively. This is particularly relevant in the area of staff skills and training development, an area that has been overlooked and under-invested in.
4. Social media strategy
The symptoms outlined above are surprisingly common as organisations grapple with the challenges of using social media effectively. However, you can improve your social media engagement by thinking more strategically, and actively working on the following areas:
· reviewing your current social media output;
· learning from best practice examples and case studies relevant to your sector;
· mapping out the main audiences and issues;
· engaging more with audiences online – and finding out more about your customers’ needs;
· discussing the role of social media with senior management; and
· agreeing future resources to implement social media successfully.
So I strongly recommend organisations set aside time to think strategically about their social media output and create a plan that can be implemented successfully.
Paul McGarrity is Director of Octave Digital, and helps government, public organisations, charities and businesses to benefit from digital and social media marketing. To claim your free guide to creating a social media strategy, contact Paul via www.octavedigital.co.uk