Promote Social Media to the Integrated Communications BullpenBy Gini Dietrich

Where does social media fall in the hierarchy of your organization?

If you’re still treating it as something you hand off to the interns to keep them busy, you’re doing a great disservice to yourself, your company, and your interns.

Your company’s social media presence and strategy should never be treated as busy work, or an experimental project.

It is, in many cases, the first connection with your organization, yet many leave it in the hands of a young and inexperienced professional without any oversight or supervision.

Think about it this way: Would you send an intern to golf with your largest customer and ask for more business?

Of course not!

You might very well take the intern on the golf outing so he or she can learn, but you’d never send them alone.

While that’s an extreme analogy, by leaving social media in the hands of the intern, you are doing the same thing.

It belongs in the middle of your integrated marketing and communications plan.

It’s time for it to graduate from the intern room to the bullpen of marketing and communications at your organization.

Breaking Down Silos

Did you know that social media is viewed as the second most effective digital marketing tactic for customer retention purposes, behind only to email?

From customer service to public relations, all the way up to your C-Suite, itbelongs to everyone.

  • The PR team should use it for reputation management, brand awareness, and to manage an issue before it becomes a crisis.
  • The marketing team should use it for customer acquisition.
  • The sales team should use it to network with new prospects. A study released by KiteDesk proves the effectiveness of it for sales professionals. In fact, salespeople who have an excellent understanding of it were more than six times likely to exceed their sales quota than peers with rudimentary or nonexistent social media skills.
  • The executive team should use it for thought leadership and credibility. According to the 2015 Social CEO Report, there are only 50 Fortune 500 CEOs with a presence on Twitter. American Family Insurance CEO Jack Salzwedel says it is “a part of the job” for CEOs.

Of course, as with anything integral to your company’s reputation and management, there needs to be a process for handling social media.

You cannot silo your company’s social media presence (to the intern room, for example), and expect it to work.

This is the recipe for a communications disaster.

Social Media is No Longer an Afterthought

  • Social media needs to be a touchpoint at every step of the way.
  • How does your strategy align with your business goals?
  • How will you manage a communication crisis?
  • What’s your brand voice and how will that shine through as you interact with your customers online?
  • What’s your escalation plan?
  • How are inquiries coming through social media routed to customer service, and vice versa?
  • When are you doing compliance training for new employees?

When creating an integrated communications plan, you need to ask the same questions about your social media strategy:

  • What does success look like? How are you going to be measuring the return-on-investment?
  • Where are your customers on social media? What are they talking about? How are they actually using the tools to engage with their favorite brands?
  • Who is going to be managing the strategy and execution? How are the roles defined within your teams? Who actually holds the keys to your accounts?
  • How is your internal team communicating with one another? What’s your process for checking in and escalation if there is an issue?
  • Why should people care about what you’re saying on social media? Are you creating thoughtful and useful content? How are you interacting with your customers and influencers online?

Social media is not here to replace any of your other communication efforts and strategies.

It’s a tool and technique to complement every point of outreach to your customers.

When used properly, it can leverage advertising, inbound interactions, and even live events, such as tradeshows and conferences.

Never Stop Learning

You’ve broken down silos, you’re prepped with all of the answers to the questions above, and your company is ready to make a splash on social media.

You have a killer editorial calendar, you’ve created great informative content, and you’re ready to hit send.

Go forth and engage! This is it. This is your social media plan from now until the end of time.

You never have to change a thing!

Wait. Stop.

You didn’t actually think it was going to be that simple, did you?

When your sales are fluctuating, your email open rates are falling, and your ads don’t perform well, do you just say, “Oh well, we have to stick to the plan”?

Of course not.

You evaluate, see what lessons can be extracted from the missteps, and pivot with a new strategy.

Social media is the same.

To be successful, you need to experiment—as long as you’re being true to your company brand and voice.

You’re not seeing traction with your content? Your engagement efforts make you feel like you’re running in place?

Evaluate, pivot, and re-engage.

But What About the Interns?

Your company’s interns are there to learn about your industry and your business, and that does include social media.

Having an integrated marketing plan means the tasks you assign to your interns will include social media touch points.

You can even have your interns evaluate various social media platforms, create proposals for a potential social media campaign, and come up with suggestions for how your current social media strategy can be improved.

When social media graduates to the communications bullpen to join the integrated plan, you’re setting everyone up for success.

A version of this first appeared in Brand Quarterly

image credit: shutterstock

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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