You’ve seen the action thrillers where the bad guy gets engulfed in an explosion, and stumbles out with his body on fire. And you’ve likely been taught that running around aimlessly, when on fire, will only fan the flames and make your situation more serious. Yet, this is exactly how businesses are reacting to social media. They know the fire is hot, and they feel compelled to jump in. However, they jump with guns a-blazing, then start running around, aimlessly getting burned – missing out on the real opportunities that the social networks and other new media provide. I see businesses on fire everyday, and it makes the Boy Scout in me want to run out waving my hands screaming, “Stop, Drop, and Roll!”
Stop what you’re doing and get a plan in place. Answer key questions like: What are my social objectives and how will I properly represent my brand? What Web assets will I need to activate? How will I consistently create interactions of value for my audiences? What resources do I need to obtain or transition in order to effectively carry out the plan?
Failing to address these key questions can result half-baked, poorly branded, misfiring assets that actually do more harm than good (AKA fanning the flames).
Many businesses forget that social media are based in conversation, and everybody knows that a good conversationalist listens before speaking. So a crucial component of your strategy is to keep your ear to the ground. Many extremely useful tools such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Social Mention, or Google Alerts allow you to monitor the Web and social media for company mentions, competitor mentions and key phrases, helping you tune in to the buzz of your target markets, and provide responsive customer service.
Once you have a plan in place, and have listened to the conversation well, you’re ready to engage in a way that is informative, entertaining, or both. You’ll be able to roll out remarkable content your audiences will be attracted to, and you can promote that content using well-branded assets that align with your positioning objectives.
Companies who have the wherewithal to remember these basics when formulating their marketing plans will be able to appropriately contain the wild fire of social media, and utilize it to add some real heat to their lead generation and branding.