Questions on social media

So you’re thinking about jumping into social media.

You’ve read a whole slew of blog posts, news stories as well as examples of how social media has helped businesses like yours cut costs and market more effectively. So now it’s your turn.

But have you really thought it through? Have you laid out the groundwork, reasons, measurement and more before you make the leap? Or are you just jumping in, because everyone’s telling you that social media isn’t for toe-dippers?

Whatever your train of thought, here are some things you might want to run through first before jumping in.

Why Are You Doing This?

Okay, this might seem like an obvious question with an even more obvious answer, but have you really asked why you’re about to start using social media?

Is there a bona-fide reason for your business to be on social media? Or is it because you’ve been told you need to be? And if you are on it, does it need to be active or passive? Do you need to take part or simply use social media as a research and listening resource?

Yes, for most business, at least some minimal social media use is better than none – but it may be that you’re about to jump in for the wrong reasons and on the wrong platforms. So you need to know why you’re doing it. How do you define your involvement?

That’s where a social media audit comes in.

Have You Carried Out a Social Media Audit?

One of the most important parts of any initial approach to using social media is a social media audit. This is something we carry out for every one of our clients, new and old, before starting a new campaign with them.

From first steps in social media to garnering intelligence for a new campaign, you need to carry out a social media audit. I won’t fool you into thinking this is a piece of cake, either – a proper social media audit can range from weeks to months to carry out, depending on how in-depth the next steps are going to be.

Some of the bare minimums of an audit include:

  • Targeting the right searches. You’re a restaurant owner and you want new clientele. So you use keywords like “restaurants” and “good food”. But what about “local catering”, “locally-produced food”, “sports nights”, “corporate events”, etc? Think of the activities outside your niche search but that are perfect for your services.

These are three key pointers for your audit. There are many more; but the main thing is you carry out the audit and be sure of the information you’re after, and how to get it properly.

What Are Your Goals?

So many businesses jump into social media with a clear goal – to succeed in social media. Great – but what is that success? There are many ways to define success in social media, just as there are many ways to measure and react. So defining what your goals are is key.

Social media goals

While not limiting yourself, some success barometers could be:

  • More visitors to your online store.
  • More foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.
  • New loyalty program sign-ups.
  • Newsletter subscribers.
  • Active social network sharing of your services.
  • Brand awareness on certain niche communities.
  • Hard sales through social media exclusive offers.
  • Coupons downloaded and used from a vanity URL.

Again, these are just some pointers on how you could set up success barometers for your social media activities. You could also look at lowering customer service issues; saving costs on hiring people; saving money on print ads to re-invest in your business.

Decide what would be a successful entry for your needs, and then define what platforms (based on your audit) you need to be on to reach the audience that can make that success happen.

What’s Your Measurement?

When someone tells you that you can’t measure the ROI of social media, look them squarely in the eye and then laugh as you show them out the door. This is one of the biggest crocks that a lot of social media “consultants” will try and tell you. It’s usually to cover for their own lack of business acumen – don’t be suckered by it.

There are many ways to measure social media, and every single campaign, involvement or activity is trackable and measurable. All you need to decide is what you’re going to measure, and how that’s going to align with the time and financial investment on your end.

Questions to ask on your measurement should include:

  • What measurement tools will you use?
  • What’s your cut-off time for evaluation of your activity?
  • What numbers are you measuring – financial, social shares and awareness, or both?
  • What percentage of growth do you want month-on-month?
  • Do news stories count as success?
  • How much can you take a hit on (freebies, coupons, etc) to result in longer-term sales?
  • What are the most active/successful times of day?

Anyone can start a campaign – not everyone actually plans it out to measure, so you can react on the fly. Make sure you know what you’re measuring and what tools you’re going to need to do this with.

Your Starter for Ten

These are just three key questions everyone should be asking before thinking social media is going to be the golden goose for your business. There are many more questions that you should be asking too:

  • What other promotional integration are you using (marketing, PR, advertising, direct mail, etc)?
  • Will you be running a mobile campaign alongside your other activities?
  • How many man hours will you need, and how many can you realistically allocate?
  • Who will be running this for you – internal or external?
  • What’s your strategy for negativity and who will deal with it for you?
  • What’s your social media policy on what can be said and by who?

Again, the amount of questions that need to be asked will vary, depending on your business and your needs/involvement. But every single business needs to acknowledge that jumping into social media involves a little bit more than a Twitter account and someone who knows a bit about computers.

Is your business asking the right questions?

image: Bruno Belcastro
image: brandlyyours

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

130 comments
Eman Sayed Fathy
Eman Sayed Fathy

Amazing insights as always, Danny! Whenever I have a question about Social Media, I always find a blog from you about it on Google Search and on the 1st page itself, great job!

Brad
Brad

Nice article danny. It seems its all about targeting your users. You need to also be very positive as well.

Brad
Brad

Nice article danny. It seems its all about targeting your users. You need to also be very positive as well.

Inspiro Assistant
Inspiro Assistant

This article is a great help. Truly many business person miss out the small bits about social media. It always pays to read. Thanks for sharing.

Inspiro Assistant
Inspiro Assistant

This article is a great help. Truly many business person miss out the small bits about social media. It always pays to read. Thanks for sharing.

Andy Andrews
Andy Andrews

Hi Danny,

Thanks for the great post. I think one of the great starting points for businesses setting out their social media policies and strategy for handling negativity is to remember what their brand stands for outside of the social media fishbowl.

It's always surprising to me what people are willing to say when they sitting behind their computers instead of talking to someone in person! Also, it's just important that people have a consistent experience with the brand, whether they are interacting in a store or on Twitter.

Andy

Andy Andrews
Andy Andrews

Hi Danny, Thanks for the great post. I think one of the great starting points for businesses setting out their social media policies and strategy for handling negativity is to remember what their brand stands for outside of the social media fishbowl. It's always surprising to me what people are willing to say when they sitting behind their computers instead of talking to someone in person! Also, it's just important that people have a consistent experience with the brand, whether they are interacting in a store or on Twitter. Andy

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Bookmarking this list Danny, wonderful plan of attack for someone considering social media. When asking why, developing that initial plan I think you need to ask "are you social"? Everyone talks about their business, has a story to tell but the decision to be "social" about it, strategically put it out there is another step. You mentioned dealing with negativity, listening .. which are some reasons companies hide from social, along with not understanding measurement and ROI. So glad you mentioned integration with other marketing, promotional efforts and your conclusion rocks, that is all. ;-)

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Bookmarking this list Danny, wonderful plan of attack for someone considering social media. When asking why, developing that initial plan I think you need to ask "are you social"? Everyone talks about their business, has a story to tell but the decision to be "social" about it, strategically put it out there is another step. You mentioned dealing with negativity, listening .. which are some reasons companies hide from social, along with not understanding measurement and ROI. So glad you mentioned integration with other marketing, promotional efforts and your conclusion rocks, that is all. ;-)

Craig Cowbrough
Craig Cowbrough

I agree with most of what you are saying I would disagree with your premise that most companies would benefit from some social media activity. Most of my SME clients (remember that's 90% of UK companies) when they ask me about getting in to social media they are doing so because they think it's a good idea no other reason than that. These are the same companies who are so stretched they don't have the resource to keep a website updated or engage in any effective customer relationship management activity apart from a postcard or a calender once a year. Get the basics right before even thinking about social media. As you say if it's not done properly better not do it at all.

Craig Cowbrough
Craig Cowbrough

I agree with most of what you are saying I would disagree with your premise that most companies would benefit from some social media activity. Most of my SME clients (remember that's 90% of UK companies) when they ask me about getting in to social media they are doing so because they think it's a good idea no other reason than that. These are the same companies who are so stretched they don't have the resource to keep a website updated or engage in any effective customer relationship management activity apart from a postcard or a calender once a year. Get the basics right before even thinking about social media. As you say if it's not done properly better not do it at all.

Marti
Marti

This was an excellent and thoughtful piece. Just wanted to stop by and say hello and thank you for your reply at Ari Herzog's. All the best to you!

Marti
Marti

This was an excellent and thoughtful piece. Just wanted to stop by and say hello and thank you for your reply at Ari Herzog's. All the best to you!

Marti
Marti

This was an excellent and thoughtful piece. Just wanted to stop by and say hello and thank you for your reply at Ari Herzog's. All the best to you!

Anne
Anne

Hi Danny! Thanks for another great post and providing a structured approach. We also always first pose the question - "are your customers online?" ..- "if so, what are they doing there?" - "which platforms are they using" ..You've extended this (amongst many other things) to the 'when' also ..which is great.

Hope you are well.

Congrat's again on your #1 Hubspot Blog ranking ..you're a star (with a great heart!) :) Take care - 2011 looks as though it's going to be fantastic for you.

Best wishes from your aussie mates.

Anne
Anne

Hi Danny! Thanks for another great post and providing a structured approach. We also always first pose the question - "are your customers online?" ..- "if so, what are they doing there?" - "which platforms are they using" ..You've extended this (amongst many other things) to the 'when' also ..which is great.

Hope you are well.

Congrat's again on your #1 Hubspot Blog ranking ..you're a star (with a great heart!) :) Take care - 2011 looks as though it's going to be fantastic for you.

Best wishes from your aussie mates.

Anne
Anne

Hi Danny! Thanks for another great post and providing a structured approach. We also always first pose the question - "are your customers online?" ..- "if so, what are they doing there?" - "which platforms are they using" ..You've extended this (amongst many other things) to the 'when' also ..which is great. Hope you are well. Congrat's again on your #1 Hubspot Blog ranking ..you're a star (with a great heart!) :) Take care - 2011 looks as though it's going to be fantastic for you. Best wishes from your aussie mates.

Amber
Amber

Thanks for the great advice. It is so important to maintain focus when doing anything. I will go and write our social media goals and then look for ways I can measure our progress. I know you referred to a few tools to measure your progress. Do you have a favorite that is fairly inexpensive for small businesses?

Amber
Amber

Thanks for the great advice. It is so important to maintain focus when doing anything. I will go and write our social media goals and then look for ways I can measure our progress. I know you referred to a few tools to measure your progress. Do you have a favorite that is fairly inexpensive for small businesses?

Nadia
Nadia

WOW, thank you for this article. I always enjoy reading your posts and as a new social media consultant (been in PR for 15 years) it gave me lots to think about and to use with my clients.

Thank you again!

Nadia
Nadia

WOW, thank you for this article. I always enjoy reading your posts and as a new social media consultant (been in PR for 15 years) it gave me lots to think about and to use with my clients. Thank you again!

Danny
Danny

Hi John,

I guess it depends on what you define as "right", mate. Some would say making a profit; some would say resolving service issues; some would say just raising positive awareness.

For me, though, folks that are doing a great job include Four Seasons Hotel group; Canadian Pet Connection (disclosure: client); Smith Family Farms; and Rogers Communications in Canada.

These are four that spring right off the bat for a mix of business use and just good old friendly use.

Hope that helps, mate! :)

BarnabyA
BarnabyA

Hey Danny. How's tricks? I'd add "don't spread yourself too thin" to the list of things to consider. It ties into the point you make about how much time you can actually spend on social media. The less time, the more focused you need to be on ensuring good quality over the various mechanisms that you choose.

Cheers
Barney

BarnabyA
BarnabyA

Hey Danny. How's tricks? I'd add "don't spread yourself too thin" to the list of things to consider. It ties into the point you make about how much time you can actually spend on social media. The less time, the more focused you need to be on ensuring good quality over the various mechanisms that you choose. Cheers Barney

Keith Davis
Keith Davis

Well set out post Danny and great questions to ask before jumping in.

First question is just the same when writing a speech... what is the purpose of your speech, what are you trying to achieve.
If you can't answer that, you can't write your speech.

BTW - love the red squirrel.
Don't see many in the UK.

Danny
Danny

Hey there Andy,

Great point - if you don't understand what your company stands for (and, more importantly, if your employees don't), then what chance do you have in front of millions of people? ;-)

Cheers, sir.

Danny
Danny

Hey there Andy, Great point - if you don't understand what your company stands for (and, more importantly, if your employees don't), then what chance do you have in front of millions of people? ;-) Cheers, sir.

Danny
Danny

Hey there miss,

Thanks, and glad you enjoyed it. :)

Agree 100% with your "are you social" question. I see so many companies and business owners that do themselves a disservice by the way they act and use these platforms.

Sometimes staying off social can be even better for you than going on - or at least get someone to help you that actually understands what they're doing and how that's going to help you. ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hey there miss, Thanks, and glad you enjoyed it. :) Agree 100% with your "are you social" question. I see so many companies and business owners that do themselves a disservice by the way they act and use these platforms. Sometimes staying off social can be even better for you than going on - or at least get someone to help you that actually understands what they're doing and how that's going to help you. ;-)

Danny
Danny

Hi Craig,

I hear you - though I guess it comes down to what's being determined as activity. As I mention in the post, you don't have to be proactive - but silently participating can save you a ton of money on focus groups and research, as well as help you plan where to spend marketing budgets.

Even if you just use social media as a listening platform and nothing else, it becomes a pretty rewarding platform.

Cheers, mate.

Danny
Danny

Hi Craig, I hear you - though I guess it comes down to what's being determined as activity. As I mention in the post, you don't have to be proactive - but silently participating can save you a ton of money on focus groups and research, as well as help you plan where to spend marketing budgets. Even if you just use social media as a listening platform and nothing else, it becomes a pretty rewarding platform. Cheers, mate.

Danny
Danny

Well thank YOU for dropping by, Marti - really appreciate it and shows the kind of great people that are part of Ari's community.

Cheers! :)

Danny
Danny

Well thank YOU for dropping by, Marti - really appreciate it and shows the kind of great people that are part of Ari's community. Cheers! :)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Anne,

It's funny how many miss the essentials that you've just mentioned. So many businesses jump on when there isn't an audience their for them to start with - and then they wonder why they're getting no return... ;-)

And thanks on the congrats - that was a nice surprise, though I still think they have the results all mixed up (though I'll still take them, hehe).

Cheers, miss, as always! :)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Anne, It's funny how many miss the essentials that you've just mentioned. So many businesses jump on when there isn't an audience their for them to start with - and then they wonder why they're getting no return... ;-) And thanks on the congrats - that was a nice surprise, though I still think they have the results all mixed up (though I'll still take them, hehe). Cheers, miss, as always! :)

Danny
Danny

Hi Amber,

Google Analytics is free, as is Compete and Quantcast (to a degree).

Beevolve is a very cost-effective alternative to the more expensive monitoring systems.

Bit.lu has great analytics for measuring URL's, and Hootsuite's premium service is also worth looking into.

Hope that helps. :)

Danny
Danny

Hi Amber, Google Analytics is free, as is Compete and Quantcast (to a degree). Beevolve is a very cost-effective alternative to the more expensive monitoring systems. Bit.lu has great analytics for measuring URL's, and Hootsuite's premium service is also worth looking into. Hope that helps. :)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Nadia,

Cheers, and glad it was useful - here's to you growing the new addition to your skill sets. :)

Danny
Danny

Hey there Nadia, Cheers, and glad it was useful - here's to you growing the new addition to your skill sets. :)

Danny
Danny

Hi John,

I guess it depends on what you define as "right", mate. Some would say making a profit; some would say resolving service issues; some would say just raising positive awareness.

For me, though, folks that are doing a great job include Four Seasons Hotel group; Canadian Pet Connection (disclosure: client); Smith Family Farms; and Rogers Communications in Canada.

These are four that spring right off the bat for a mix of business use and just good old friendly use.

Hope that helps, mate! :)

Danny
Danny

Hi John, I guess it depends on what you define as "right", mate. Some would say making a profit; some would say resolving service issues; some would say just raising positive awareness. For me, though, folks that are doing a great job include Four Seasons Hotel group; Canadian Pet Connection (disclosure: client); Smith Family Farms; and Rogers Communications in Canada. These are four that spring right off the bat for a mix of business use and just good old friendly use. Hope that helps, mate! :)

Danny
Danny

Definitely, mate, and one of the reasons an audit is so important. Find out where you're needed and just keep an eye on the rest.

Cheers, fella. :)

Danny
Danny

Definitely, mate, and one of the reasons an audit is so important. Find out where you're needed and just keep an eye on the rest. Cheers, fella. :)

Danny
Danny

It's funny how speeches are often looked at as being fairly easy by a lot of people, huh Keith? After all, we all talk, so talking a little bit more can't be that difficult, can it?

But of course, it's much more difficult than that (and I know I don't need to say that to you). :)

These red squirrels are ten-a-penny over here mate - big change from the grey buggers we used to see in Edinburgh all the time!

Business Coaching with John Komatsoulis
Business Coaching with John Komatsoulis

That's awesome Danny, I really appreciate the extra step you took to link the sites. I would have searched for them myself anyways, but it really saved me the time, so thanks :)

Business Coaching with John Komatsoulis
Business Coaching with John Komatsoulis

That's awesome Danny, I really appreciate the extra step you took to link the sites. I would have searched for them myself anyways, but it really saved me the time, so thanks :)

Keith Davis
Keith Davis

Spent some time in Edinburgh - great place.
Used to go up to the huge artificial ski slope there, the one at Hillend.
Drive up the M6, stop off at Kendal in the lakes and then over the border.
Always kept my mouth shut if I was in a bar and England were playing Scotland!

But... I thought that you were from Glasgow, or have a said a terrible thing?

Cheers Danny