The age-old saying of ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ is true in social media. Businesses in Australia are laggards in social media usage with less than half of Australia’s largest organisations integrated users of social media. They are risk adverse for this communication strategy. Businesses/organisations think that they need to have a social media presence but do not tie it into any business strategies or think that they need to. For social media to be truly successful, it needs to be:
- aligned with the business goals
- matched with the strategic objectives
- be planned with a clear vision
- be used as an engagement strategy internally and externally
Social media is changing how organisations are being run and to be truly successful in this space, organisations need to stop thinking that they just need to have a Facebook page. What they need to do is start engaging and using the communication channel of social media such as a Facebook page as a way of doing that engagement. Today, consumers, especially Gen Y want to engage with brands and organisations. If an organisation thinks they can just tweet or post a promotion about their products, with no engagement, then they are fooling themselves, consumers will just ignore them and their messages will certainly not get through the clutter and be heard by their target market.
Organisations need to know why they are going into this space so they can truly engage – to just have a Facebook page is not reason enough. Organisations need to find the time and staff to maintain and monitor the digital space and have a Digital Community Manager to look after this important communication channel. An example of a company that did not have a plan with their social media was Qantas when they tweeted about luxury, using #qantasluxury straight after the grounding of their entire fleet. The message was wrong, especially given the timing, and was inconsistent with what the organisation was about or what they needed to be doing in the public relations space. Social media should not be treated separately and if done so, like Qantas did, then it will fail.
As Brian Solis, in his post about The Gap Between Social Media and Business Impact: 6 stages of social business transformation, states organisations go through the 6 stages of social media usage from planning to conversion, with the aim of moving to the converged stage where a business integrates social engagement in all aspects of their enterprise.
Most organisations currently are at the presence stage and have missed the planning stage altogether. They know that they need to be in the social media space but are scared of it or don’t really know what it is about. They treat it as something separate from all other communication messages or put minimal time into it, just pushing out their messages thinking that consumers will want to hear it. When organisations become social and social media engagement is part of their strategy and culture, it results in their staff and consumers being engaged, loyal advocates, and what organisation doesn’t want that?
An example of a company that is using social media well is Lorna Jane – “women to achieve their best life. Move. Nourish. Believe”. Lorna Jane’s Facebook page is an effective use of an engagement strategy and creating synergy with the organisation’s vision of inspiring their target audience. They have tapped into the what their target audience is about, in other words they are researching their target market and know them, know what makes them tick and are using that insight to engage with them. They do this by not by promoting their clothing line, but by providing inspirational posts to motivate women to make moving/exercise part of their life; they engage with their audience and respond to posts. They see their Facebook page as part of their communication strategy and it is has created consistency with their messages and their other communication channels (ie Instagram with #nourish). They are leaders not only in their sporting/leisure clothing industry but also in the digital world.
Social media is just another media channel but like all communication channels, there needs to be synergy and all channels need to be integrated and match the organisations’ planned strategic objectives and vision. Organisations need to know why they are going into this space so they can truly engage. Organisations need to stop thinking they need to just be in the social media space, yes it is a start but they need to integrate it into their organisation and plan for it’s use. If they plan for it and integrate it, then they will have reduced their risk in entering into the social media world.