data-state-of-social-media-01b-2013The social media landscape is vast and growing. Apart from the major social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, newer channels such as Pheed, Medium, Reddit and Foursquare are rising to prominence. HootSuite published a list of seven social networks to watch in 2013, Ragan’s a list of five and Mashable a list of 10 niche networks you’ve likely never heard of. With so many channels and limited resources, what’s a brand to do? Here’s a snapshot of the process Beehive uses to create a focused, smart social media plan.

  1. Refresh the strategy. Dust off the strategy your brand created when it started on social media. Is it still relevant? Effective social media strategy requires clear goals action plans and measurement — and each social platform needs to support the overarching strategy. What platforms do you activate? Who manages the channels? What steps are necessary to produce a post or update? Do you produce a content calendar? How do you measure your results?
  2. If you can’t do it well, don’t do it It’s tempting to run company pages on a bunch of social media networks. However, if your brand can’t do those platforms well, don’t do them. On each of your social platforms, you should be able to produce quality content, build a following, promote your brand and engage your community. If you can’t accomplish that on all of your social networks, drop some and be really good at a small number of social media platforms.We’ve seen the consequences of brands not doing social media well. Take Poland Spring water and its lack of response following Senator Marco Rubio’s State of the Union rebuttal. Poland Spring could have capitalized on Rubio’s awkward drink from a Poland Spring bottle. Instead, Poland Spring took 14 hours to respond, a lifetime in social media. Social media users noted that Poland Spring’s Twitter account had been inactive since July and its corporate account had been inactive since January 2011. The company lost the immediate opportunity and looked sloppy and out-of-touch. When a Poland Spring spokeswoman finally commented the morning after the speech, all she could say was “I haven’t seen what’s going on on Twitter.” It would have been better for Poland Spring to simply not have a Twitter account than to have an inactive one.
  3. Different platform, different audience. Make sure the platforms your brand activates are the platforms that reach your audiences and influencers. AdWeek, with research from the Pew Research Center, created an infographic to represent the demographics of various social media sites. Pinterest, for example, attracts higher educated, affluent women. Urban dwellers are more likely than rural residents to use Twitter, while Facebook remains the most used social network among all age groups. Take note of the data, and devote your social media efforts to the channels where you can best reach your audiences.Demographics are variable. Your audience will age, move or switch to a new social network. Pay attention to the data and be ready to migrate to different social channels.
  4. ROI is short for engagement. Measuring ROI involves numbers of followers and amount of audience engagement. It’s easy to use increase in followers as an indication of success, but more followers does not necessarily mean an increase in customers. Engagement — the number of times a post is shared, commented on, favorite, liked, retweeted —- is a harder to measure but more accurate indicator of ROI.Focused social media requires a solid strategy and deliberate choices. Social channels allow brands to interact quickly and personally with customers, prospects and influencers. They open the opportunity to create loyal followers and brand advocates, and it allows for real-time marketing engagement.

Take the time to understand the demands, opportunities and business value of social media for your organization. A clear understanding of your social media goals and active engagement with your brand’s plan will make social media more cost effective and rewarding.

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