Effectively using social media for business requires planning. Lots and lots of planning. It's absolutely necessary to do the prep work, align the resources, plan to produce content, produce the content and align on workflow. With all of the careful prep work and ongoing maintenance, it’s really easy to catch yourself being too careful and process oriented.
Don’t get me wrong. Process is integral to protecting yourself and your business, but you have to be careful not to let it slow you down when there’s an opportunity to market in real-time.
There’s Opportunity in Speed
News, information, memes and everything else moves super fast. The zeitgeist of the social media world changes so fast that if you weren’t online for an hour, something may have passed you by.
The always-on, constant flow of information allows marketers to be a part of brand- and category-related conversation at a moment’s notice like never before. With social media, marketers don’t have to plan commercials, test copy, look at indexes and hold focus groups. They can be flexible and leverage content as it happens.
Follow Your Plan, While Living in Real-Time
Pretty much everyday, we know what’s ahead of us and we go through the day, but unexpected things come up. When those happen we still stick to our plan, but we adapt as necessary. That’s how marketers need to live in real-time--stick with your social media plan but be aware of what’s happening at any given moment to tap opportunities.
Principles to Live in Real-Time
- Remember your content isn’t set in stone. If an opportunity arises, take it. See if the content you've prepared is time sensitive. If it isn’t, save it for later, and seize the opportunity at your fingertips.
- Monitor for opportunities (and threats). Follow the news, use Twitter Search and be aware of what is happening at any given moment. You can look for industry and category-related information worth sharing, but also monitor for mentions of your brand. When consumers speak, good or bad, about you, that may be an opportunity to respond and support them in real-time.
- Avoid the pitfalls. Responding fast can lead to problems. Maybe someone will say something they shouldn’t, or the lack of oversight will degrade quality. Prepare! Set a policy for those engaging on behalf of the brand that identifies what topics are okay to share and respond to, what to watch out for and how to move quickly and wisely.