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Find Your Voice And Efficiently Manage Your Social Media (Email Series – Part 2)

This blog post is Part 2 of 3 in an email series titled 3 Critical Steps To Social Media Success – A Social Media Manager Shares His Secrets”. It has been written in collaboration with Reid Travis, Social Media Manager – Panchero’s Mexican Grill.

To receive all of the emails and articles in this series and to sign up for our newsletter, click this link and sign up now.

Reid Travis has been working as a Social Media Manager for Panchero’s Mexican Grill for over 18 months now, and in that time he has adopted some great practices that have helped him excel in his job. The basic everyday roles of a social media manager can be divided into three umbrella categories; monitor, manage and measure. For the remainder of this post we are going to dive into the details regarding the managing portion of Reid’s job; share a few tips and hopefully inspire you to implement some of these practices for your company, or personal brand.

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Manage Your Social Media, Don’t Let It Manage You!

Welcome back to part two of our three part series. Last week we ventured into the realm of monitoring a brand’s presence in the social realm. Starting off the series with that post was no accident. I believe that when you are beginning to bring your brand onto social channels it is vital to begin the process with a proper monitoring and listening plan. After establishing this mode of listening, however, the next step is to begin interacting and managing your brand online.

Managing a corporate identity and portraying a personality for a brand are some of my largest responsibilities at Panchero’s. In this post I will show you how to properly tap into your brand’s voice and portray a consistent personality. I will  talk a bit about finding proper conversation outlets and content generation, also share with you a few services that help make the managing process a little more streamline.

Finding your frame of mind

When someone arrives at a party they don’t immediately walk in the door and begin shouting random things at the other guests and attempt to start conversations with everyone in the room all at once, right? Nor do they stand in the corner and randomly yell at people, trying to get their attention from a distance. There is proper etiquette to be followed when interacting with other people, and everyone is expected to know this. The online social world is no different; improper social etiquette is easily noticed by other social media enthusiasts and is definitely not received well.

When someone arrives at this hypothetical party the proper thing to do is to mingle for a second, listen to the conversations taking place amongst each social circle, join a conversation when appropriate and hopefully make meaningful and worthwhile interjections as the conversation progresses. I can’t stress enough how much your social presence should reflect this basic understanding of human interactions. I’m about to tell you the secret of social media managing success; show up, listen, add valuable content, listen some more, don’t be intrusive. It truly is that simple.

Finding your conversation

Part of the job of a social media manager is to discover where your brand fits within the vast depth of the social media world. There is nothing worse than showing up to a party and realizing that no one there gives a hoot about what you are talking about. Brian Solis has a beautiful visual representing the numerous areas a brand or person could choose to maintain a presence. Where as some networks are obviously a good choice to utilize simply because of their size (ie: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) some of these niche networks may already be set up with a focus that aligns perfectly with your product or service.

I’m going to venture a guess that all the people who are on that niche network that perfectly aligns with your product or service are probably very interested in what you have to say! Keep an eye out during your listening exercises we talked about in the last post for any networks or forums that continually contain mentions of your brand or other buzzwords you are tracking. Perhaps rather than just listening to that conversation now, it’s about time you take an active role and participate in the conversation. Starting to see the parallels of the party metaphor? We just showed up and started mingling and listening to specific conversations.

Your content and their content

Social media is NOT just another medium in which to market a product or service. Social media is communication, it is designed to nurture relationships with your consumers and hopefully create a few brand evangelists along the way. If you are providing worthwhile and interesting content, it will be spread by other users. My most favorite recent example of a company truly embracing the new tools of social media is Old Spice. The creative and unique nature of these “commercials” may not work well on TV as a blasted message, but they made a killing on the social realm when people were able to pass them around and watch them willingly. Aside from creating content, though, prepare to be able to comment on and discuss content generated by other people. Be sure to identify yourself as a representative of the company, and make worthwhile interjections without taking over the conversation.

No brand is without it’s negative press, and social channels are no exception. If I can stress one point about negative content from users, it is to take the conversation offline. Immediately. The more you converse in an online public space about a negative experience the easier it is for anyone to find that conversation, or even snippets of the conversation, and take portions out of context. Have a designated email address (or Skype name!) in place that you can use strictly for online complaints. True story, I’ve had users remove criticism from online channels because of how impressed they were with the timely and effective response they received online. Most consumers will feel very good about having personal attention paid to them when they feel they have been wronged by your company or brand. Even if you can’t directly fix their problem, simply listening to their complaint can be just as powerful.

This is the part of the party where you have settled in, effectively mingled and joined a conversation. You had a back and forth dialogue with people at the party and are well on your way to becoming a functioning member of the online community! Keep this cycle going. Your behavior when conversing online should hold very little differences to how you would converse with someone in person. Keep your messages focused and worthwhile; give people a reason to listen. Be courteous, and take your turn talking and listening in the conversation.

Making It Easier

Spreading yourself too thin online can be pretty easy to do. It’s important to keep up with your social presence, and there are tools in place to help you do it efficiently. Leaving a social media presence unattended can be disastrous to your brand reputation. Trevor talked about a specific scenario not long ago where a PR fiasco was made worse partly because of stagnant Twitter handles.

A service I have used quite extensively for managing the Panchero’s social presence is HootSuite. There are a few others out there such as Involver, and some even focus almost primarily on Twitter, like Tweetdeck or Cotweet. Most of them offer very similar services such as posting to multiple accounts from one interface, scheduling posts for later (don’t abuse this power), setting up continuous searches, monitoring multiple accounts from one interface…etc… I would highly recommend trying out a few of these services and find one that fits your style. If you have a presence on a site that isn’t supported by one of these managing services find out if you can set up email alerts. Having alerts sent to your email when someone interacts with you on a social site can be a great way to cut down on the number of times you have to physically go check the site, but still ensures you won’t leave comments or mentions going unnoticed for days at a time.

Conclusion

I have only brushed the surface of managing online social communication, but I hope this has placed you in the correct frame of mind for tackling a social media presence. Keep an eye out for companies doing it right, and companies doing it wrong; learn from their mistakes before you make the same ones and borrow a few tips of the trade along the way.

Here are some examples of brands doing it well:

I would love to hear what you think!  Do you have any tools that you use to manage your social media that I haven’t covered in this article?

Thanks for tuning in for the second of the three part series on social media. Next week we talk about measuring your online presence and evaluating the success and return of your online efforts.

Reid Travis – Social Media Manager
Panchero’s Mexican Grill
@Pancheros
@ReidBTravis

Trevor Turnbull is the President of T3 CONNECT Sports Marketing, COO of Sports Networker & Sports Executives Association, Contributing Writer for Entrepreneur.com, the lead Linkedin trainer for Route Three Marketing and co-producer of Zero To Money Making Website & WordPress Authorities. Connect with Trevor on Google+
Trevor Turnbull
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About Trevor Turnbull

Trevor Turnbull is the President of T3 CONNECT Sports Marketing, COO of Sports Networker & Sports Executives Association, Contributing Writer for Entrepreneur.com, the lead Linkedin trainer for Route Three Marketing and co-producer of Zero To Money Making Website & Wordpress Authorities. Connect with Trevor on Google+

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  • Jason

    I'd be curious to hear your viewpoints on the B2B front. B2C is fairly straightforward, but B2B presents a unique set of challenges. Are the “rules of engagement” the same? I'm currently devising a social engagement plan for a client, and am struggling with it as the objectives don't seem as black and white as with B2C. I know, this is a very vague question to which the answer will differ for different businesses, but I'm curious to hear your initial thoughts. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/reidbtravis Reid Travis

    Thanks for the comment, Jason. I think the biggest difference you're going to find regarding B2B communication is with the networks in which you maintain a presence. It's hard to give broad advice about networks because each social space has it's on ethos and naturally you're going to want to adopt that when joining the community. I have a feeling the ratio of responsive, or conversation-based communication versus broadcasted messages will differ a little bit when dealing with B2B. Leaning away from just conversation and more towards information and broadcasted messages a little, possibly a 50/50 split in B2B instead of a 80/20 split like in B2C. Most businesses are actually going to be looking for a lot of straightforward information in your content rather than just a conversation. Again, this depends on the industry and the audience. In my opinion one of the more powerful tools with B2B is a blog. Websites are great, but most of the time they are just static and boring. Having a very active and lively blog you can direct to rather than a website will sometimes help in an initial pitch process. People may interact with your blog and therefore give you an immediate “in” to contact them further for a pitch or meeting.
    Many of the same principles in this post such as having a consistent voice, finding the voice that represents your brand well and being pro-active online after establishing yourself all still apply to B2B communication. You just have to realize your audience is far different and are expecting a different type of message. Some of the specific networks I talked about may not be the correct fit for your situation, but there are hundreds out there.
    I hope this helps! Thanks for reading.