Thursday, June 2, 2011

Make Your Social Media Communications Effective

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Executive – Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Every business or organization has its own reasons for joining in the social media movement, but there is one common reason to use social media: to effectively communicate with your key audiences. June is Effective Communications Month, the perfect time to assess how effective you are at communicating with your key audiences through social media.

Whatever your main purpose or goal is with social media, the real trick is to communicate in a way that is timely, appropriate and concise; all while not taking up your entire work day. Ask yourself, “Is this something my followers or Facebook ‘likers’ would be interested in, or need to know?” (…and no, your followers will not care what you just had for lunch). Does it get them engaged with our brand? Will this be something they’ll share with others? Once your information passes this test, there are a few rules of thumb to follow to effectively communicate with your social media followers:

• Monitor pages frequently – Log in to your pages a couple times each day to see your activity. There are several services that help people monitor pages and post information efficiently and simultaneously. One service I’ve found helpful is HootSuite.

• Post often but don’t get too carried away – A good rule of thumb is to post three or four times a week. Generally, site activity is slower in the afternoon for sites like Twitter or blogs, so this may be a good time to post. Don’t forget to post on other “off” times such as in the evening and on the weekends.

• Provide a wide variety of content - Make your page content unique. In addition to posting information your audience needs to know such a special sale, post non-commercial advice related to your industry, links to interesting articles, take polls, run contests and share relevant photos. Don’t forget to direct them to unique content on your website or other pages.

• Designate a couple of different page administrators – Elect a couple people that will have access to the page log in information. If you have a Facebook page, consider making them “admins” for your page. But, if you do this, remember, their personal profiles will be representing your business page. An alternative solution is to create a “ghost” profile, which is an empty page giving a staff member the ability to post on your page without having their personal page linked to your business’s page.

• Finally, measure your results. This should go beyond the number of followers or fans (although that’s a good basic measurement). How often are people sharing posts or “re-tweeting?” Is there a dialogue taking place on your page? What are sales like for the product you’ve been promoting? Also, check out how your company website traffic has been. It can be a bit overwhelming, but there are reliable, free online measurement tools that can track stats about your social media accounts.

Social media is an important tool for your on-going PR and communications strategies. If used in a strategic way, these tools can help you grow your brand and business while also generating some great PR!

How effectively have you been communicating with your followers and "likers?" Do you have other ideas about ways to communicate effectively on social media sites? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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