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As a large enterprise, you have likely already developed a social media strategy, you know your target audience and now you are constantly reviewing the growing and overwhelming landscape of social media platforms trying to decide where you need to participate. With the strategic planning stage of your social media marketing program in place, you can start piecing together the tactical portions of your campaigns to match up with your goals. Chris Brogan has taught us a lot about some of those tactical portions:
"If you're a company considering using social media tools for business communications, marketing, sales, etc, you're no doubt wondering about how much time it will add to your already busy day... The answer varies depending on how you're using it, how many platforms you're engaging, your goals, and more."
One particular area to pay attention to are the "outposts": "the touchpoints away from your main online presence where you connect with others in some way."
Since this concept of an outpost has been developed, the number of options available to us has increased to an overwhelming number.
Which ones do you use? How do you balance multiple platforms - and more reach - with the number of resources you have available? How do you keep providing content that's valuable and consistent since that's the only way you'll keep your audience coming back? There are a few key things to think about when you're planning your outpost program that'll make answering these questions a whole lot easier.
You Can Spread Yourself Too Thin
"Throwing together." "Slapping up." "Last-minute." If you regularly have any of those sentiments while implementing one or more of your outposts, you've got too much on your plate. It's time to prioritize and rethink your connections. But that doesn't mean you have to cut back on your outposts. You may just have to figure out how to streamline the process of publishing and managing your multiple social channels.
Prioritize Your Audience
Ask yourself what your goals are in reaching people, and from there you can match your platforms to these goals. Are you going for high volume and more eyes? Trying to find your most loyal followers? Or maybe one of your platforms - or followers - has a high influence factor you want to leverage. If you can identify what followers are going to be most valuable to you, you can then figure out where they are online, and thus, how to reach them.
Work It... Work Them
If you are publishing out to multiple social channels, set them up so they can work for each other. Repurpose content on one platform for another. Turn formal marketing collateral into a blog post. Or run a Twitter survey and post the results on your Facebook page. You get the picture. Make the work you do in one place work for you in another.
In addition to repurposing content, it's also helpful to identify platforms that can push or pull feeds to and from others. Ask yourself what platforms can be connected to one another to make part of your process automated, but still trackable and easy to respond to. You can't make this so automated that you're not paying attention to one given platform (wouldn't that defeat the purpose?), but you can save yourself a few extra steps along the way.
Centralization is key
If you are an enterprise marketer managing multiple social channels, you may want to do yourself a favor and invest in a social media management system to centralize and streamline your processes. The virtues of managing these processes from one spot almost goes without saying, especially for the larger enterprise organizations with many, many social channels.
Don't forget the people
Behind your social media strategy lies people. I'd be willing to bet that if you had a fully automated social program that just worked along in the background of your business activities, it'd be a failure, or at the very least useless. Maintenance of your outposts requires people who can connect with, respond to and engage with your audience. You need people who are well-trained, effective and passionate behind the wheel.
David Armano, senior VP at Edelman Digital, summarizes this process quite well when explaining the strategy they use internally.
"At Edelman we look at social properties as "embassies"--properties that exist off your domain (like your Website), but you technically have some ownership of. "Embassies" established in ecosystems such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. must be properly maintained, and the really good ones add value to the communities they serve. In order to do this, you need "ambassadors." These can be employees and/or partners, but as a business you must carve out roles and processes for them to do their jobs. So it's people, process and systems.
On the people front, you need individuals who are skilled in public engagement and content management (think community managers). On the process front you need to have clear rules of engagement in place, as well as tools such as a content calendar. All of this has to be flexible enough for change, which happens regularly. On the systems front, this is where SMMS come into play. Increasingly there is the need to manage multiple embassies across multiple brands and business units.
I think we are in the early stages of all of this but we are already planning, training and working with our clients as they plan for scale in this space. Training, process and the right systems are the three areas enterprise organizations should be focusing on as they evolve their capabilities to deal with an increasingly social business environment."
If you can only handle one outpost, so be it. But if you are willing to streamline and centralize, chances are that you may be able to handle more, thus increasing your social reach. If you couple these thoughts with a solid social media marketing strategy, you'll be able to find that happy little sweet spot of outposts and get your social media program really cranking.