The success of any social media program is irrevocably tied to the initial expectations of the program. What did you think was going to happen?
“We’ve integrated the Social channels & Social personality into our everyday business and we’re now seeing unprecedented positive service sentiment and we’re very happy with the steady (organic) growth of loyal and engaged followers over time.” – said no client EVER.
Having a clear formula for success up-front is crucial to your expectations. And having clear expectations up-front is crucial to your success. But this is not the chicken or the egg. Expectations can come in many shapes and sizes. They are very complex and multi-faceted. Here is my top 10 list of expectations that MUST be internalized or the overall perceived success of your program will be decreased significantly.
Expectation #1: Your entire decision-making team must ALL have the same expectations and the “buy-in” needs to be top-down.
Expectation #2: You need to work hard to be relevant. This is not the Field of Dreams—you must do more than build it.
Expectation #3: Be more concerned with measurable engagement than the number of followers. Vanity metrics is good for your ego, but is not sustainable and can be manipulated in the bottom line. Seek to win consumer trust and brand advocacy instead.
Expectation #4: You must provide customer service in social channels with a purpose and commitment that may leave you vulnerable and transparent. Be accountable, timely and consistent with your community.
Expectation #5: Keep evolving. This space is dynamic—changing constantly. Take risks in new channels and with new creative brand storytelling angles. Stretch outside your comfort zone, there are no hard and fast rules. The worst that can happen is nobody joins you. Go ahead and blaze some trails.
Expectation #6: The size (number of followers) of your current social communities is NOT the size of your engaged audience at all times. If you have 10,000 followers on Facebook, I assure you that they are not all collectively holding their breath until you release your amazing $10 off coupon. Refer to expectation #2.
Expectation #7: You MUST advertise your Social presences (online and off) if you want to jumpstart your community numbers. It doesn’t matter what you have to say or offer if nobody is there to hear you. On-going advertising is worthwhile to COMPLEMENT organic growth and raise awareness outside your established communities.
Expectation #8: Social Media is not an overnight success. Be patient. Your success will be determined by your audience sentiment (they will tell you if you have a successful Social program) and not your internal measurement. Traditionally, majority customer sentiment determines a brand’s service quality—and this tradition has not changed.
Expectation #9: Establish trusted brand partnerships that will keep you connected to Social/Digital trends and strategies in order to keep you evolving. Adopt Social policies internally and train team members in best practices and engagement philosophies. People say and do stupid things online, and your employees are people.
Expectation #10: As communities grow, so will the number of hours you need to commit to maintaining them. This is where things really start to get interesting—and consequently where most brands abandon their social ship citing budget restrictions. Momentum is key. Don’t let your mouth write a cheque that your actions can’t cash. (Yeah, actions isn’t what I was thinking either.)
With a base understanding of realistic expectations, you can start to formulate what success will look like to you. Set goals, use benchmarks, and try and have a little fun.