More than 60 Percent of Fortune 1000 Companies Will Fail With Social Media, Will You?

There has been a lot of buzz around how Social Media is changing the world of business and more specifically how companies interact with customers. We’ve seen an explosion in the traffic and users on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Plus, last October Garnter released a report that stated more than 60 percent of Fortune 1000 companies will be involved in social media. The problem is that with so much hype about the next big thing, many these companies (Gartner says more than 60 percent) will jump in without a clear plan causing them to fail.

If these large otherwise successful companies can’t master it, where does this leave the rest of us?

Actually smaller businesses have a few advantages over larger corporations. Maybe the most important is that they are more nimble and able to adapt quicker to the changing landscape. They can get things done with out a lot for red tape.

To be successful in social media the most important thing is to lay out a plan. Here are some things to think about before taking the plunge:

1. Define your goals for using social media.

What do you want to achieve? What do you want out of your social media efforts? Without out knowing the answers to these questions up front you have no idea for what you’re aiming. Simple being in the conversation is not enough. This includes identifying your audience, and who is talking about what where.
For example, if your company sells business to business you will more likely be interested in site like LinkedIn rather than Facebook. Conversely if your company sells directly to consumers, being on Facebook will have more value.

Furthermore, do you want to use social media to create brand awareness or create sales? Dell is a good example of a company that is using Twitter to sell their product. Dell Offers Exclusive Discounts Through Twitter.

2. Get everyone on the same page.

Just like any other new business strategy you need to make sure that everyone is up to speed. Create an over strategy that involves marketing, sales, other departments, as well as partners and possibly some outside vendors. The more everyone is on the same page about the goals and plan for the strategy, the
better your chance to succeed. Without the overall strategy your efforts will become disjointed and all over place. It is also a good idea to have a Chief Social Media Advisor or a Social Media Evangelist. You need someone to drive the campaign.

3. Take your ego out of the equation.

Social media is about building relationships. Yes, in the end you are there to promote you business and put your brand on display, but don’t let your ego run away with itself. It’s not about you or your popularity. Social media is not about one sided sales pitches or marketing messages. If people think that all you care about is yourself and pushing your product, they won’t stick around. Social media is about relationships and conversations. You need to spend time listening to what others are saying. Ask questions, get feedback and try to discover how consumers really see your company.

Another thing you need to do is make sure you are open about who you are and why you are there. There have been numerous cases where companies and/or executives have engaged in social media under false pretenses and were eventually discovered. You want to see how viral social media is? Get caught lying about what your doing and people will talk.

4. Define how to measure success.

Social media has been said to have a soft ROI (Return On Investment). It is very difficult to measure buzz and that is what a lot of social media is. In some cases you can measure how many purchases were made or downloads, etc, but in most cases there is not a direct dollar amount that you apply. So, you have to look at other ways to measure success. If you are using a Facebook Profile you can track the number of fans, the discussions and comments. If you are using the profile to drive traffic to your website you can tag the
links to your site and using analytics you can track how many people click through to your site and what they do once they are there. If you are running a video campaign you can track comments or how many links have been created or the ratings the video has received.

In the end social media is about getting out there and spending time with your customers, giving them an outlet to interact with the company and showing them that they really are of value to your company. Treat it like any other business strategy and don’t let the hype drag you in before you have
a plan. Do this and your chances of success will be much higher.

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