Videogames are a passion of mine. Wait… Did I say passion? I met obsession. There’s nothing better than turning on a videogame console and working from level to level through an incredible experience. Videogames are about progression. They place a series of challenges in front of a gamer, who learns from those challenges and applies those lessons to challenges further into the game.
Social media for business is similar in a lot of ways. There are levels to progress through. They don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be tackled at the same time because each piece is required to be successful for the piece that follows.
Progression through social media for your business can be divided and sub-divided over and over again, but essentially, there are three levels:
Marketers leveraging social media should have some idea what is going on, and the best way to do this is to listen. There are several paid tools out there to help with this, which I recommend. However, something as simple as Google Alerts or Twitter Search is a good start. Understand what customers are saying, where they are talking and who they are. This is the foundation for the rest of the social media game because it provides insights that will be leveraged for future levels.
It’s important to remember that listening doesn’t stop. Businesses should continue to listen, learn and apply insights to their social media execution and business overall.
Social media allows businesses to interact and talk with consumers. Notice that I didn’t say talk to consumers. It’s a conversation, so there should be a back-and-forth, a give-and-take.
To complete this level, self-promotion is okay, but it should be countered with conversational dialogue grounded in your brand, objectives and short, as well as long-term, strategies. This allows you to find your enthusiastic customers and motivate those who aren’t to get excited and interact with you.
Be prepared for some curve balls in this level. Customers are talking, and there’s really no telling what they will say. Have a crisis plan in place, so the curve balls don’t turn into serious problems.
The final level of the social media game, just like the previous two, doesn’t end. It just gets better.
You’ve identified your customers and engaged with them. Now, it’s time to leverage them further. Empower them to spread your brand message to others with shareable items and calls to action.
The final piece is completely integrating your customers into your business by seeking their thoughts, ideas and feedback and responding to it. Obviously, this is the most challenging level, but it has the potential to be the most rewarding.
Success in social media doesn’t have an on/off switch. It’s a progression with learned skills, key insights and new tools. All are needed to succeed. Remember that it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a level-by-level process, and just like a video game, it’s a ton of fun.