Whether it’s Starbucks, Dell, Naked Pizza, Blendtec or Comcast, companies that hit the social media jackpot are repeatedly cited to illustrate the potential of social media. While social media can be an effective communications, marketing and sales tool, mega-success is an anomaly. As well, success – however you define it – rarely happens overnight.
The problem with the ultra-success stories that are an integral part of many presentations is they set false or misleading expectations. Many companies getting into social media expect that social media success will happen quickly, and that their social media campaigns will resonate with a large number of people.
Even though you try to make people realistic about what’s possible, many people expect instant and significant results. In many ways, it reminds me of family car trips when children repeatedly ask “Are we there yet?”, despite the fact there are still hundreds of miles left to go.
The reality is social media “success” takes time and effort. It can take months of sustained effort to see tangible results. This requires patience and a willingness to keep going even when it appears things aren’t going as well as expected. It also means resisting the urge to give up – something many companies do rather than tough it out.
Here are some tips on obtaining social media success:
1. Have a plan of attack. Before getting into social media, it’s important to know what you’re going to do and what success looks like.
2. Be tactical. Doing social media well means being clear on who’s going to be running social media programs and campaigns, the rules of engagement and best practices. This will provide a “playbook” to effectively operate social media on a day-in-day-out basis, as opposed to having a scattered approach.
3. Monitor and measure. No plan is perfect so monitoring social media activity and measuring what’s happening against pre-defined goals provide valuable insight into whether the strategic and tactical plans are working, or whether they need to be tweaked or overhauled.
At the end of the day, social media success doesn’t have to be about the number of Twitter followers, Facebook “Likes”, blog comments or YouTube views. Success is really about being engaged with your target audience, whether they’re customers, potential customers, employees, partners, suppliers or investors.
Most important, success takes time and effort. Even then, it may not be as sexy as what Starbucks or Naked Pizza are doing but that’s okay.