Five Ways to Effectively Scale Social Media

Last week, we had a blog post looking at the new economic of social media tactics. This included the suggestion that tactics could be outsourced in much the same way that many companies outsource customer service to cost-effective call centres.

In thinking some more about social media tactics, I started exploring the different ways companies could scale social media. While outsourcing is still part of the mix, there are a variety of ways that companies can scale other than simply hiring more people. These include:

1. Hire top-notch people. It may seem like a simple enough proposition but hiring the right people to operate day-to-day tactics should not be underestimated. You need people who are not only social media savvy but energetic, self-starters, engaged, willing to go the extra step, and see their jobs as a mission as opposed to just a job.

Of course, you usually get what you pay for so attracting these people may not be cheap. But if you hire the right people, there’s a better chance of achieving a solid ROI on their efforts. This means avoiding the trap of trying to hire people who are cheap, young and enthusiastic about social media.

2. Be focused. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, companies can be successful by focusing their efforts and people on the social media services that best meet their strategic objectives. It may mean just having a blog or only using Facebook and Twitter, rather than trying to embrace everything.

Too many companies shoot themselves in the foot by adopting a shotgun approach to social media in which they do everything, only to see their efforts fail because their people are stretched too thin to be effective.

3. Create strong content. At the end of the day, content is king, regardless of the social media being used. A company’s social media efforts will live or die by the quality of their content – be on a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Flickr. It’s one thing to be have an active social media presence but quite another to have a presence that resonates, engages, entertains or educates users on a regular basis.

4. Democratize social media throughout the company. As much as a company wants great people to oversee their social media efforts, an effective way to scale social media is getting other employees to contribute to the overall cause. Companies such as IBM, for example, have harnessed the enthusiasm and intellect of their employees to create a major social media presence. An important part of making this happen is a social media policy that clearly articules what works and what doesn’t.

5. Let people who consume your social media content also evangelize and support your efforts. In an ideal world, for example, people who criticize or attack a company are quickly counter-attacked by consumers who like what a company is doing. This allows a company’s employees to avoid the fray because issues are being handled effectively by the public.

To encourage this activity, companies should make a point to thank their customers for their efforts in a sincere and transparent way.

6. Outsource tactics to a PR, digital, advertising and social media agency. It’s a model that is still evolving because the cost to let someone else handle day-t0-day tactics can be expensive. But it’s an option many companies should explore rather than hiring someone, particularly during the early days when a company may not want to make an investment before knowing exactly what it wants to do.

Any other suggestions on how to scale social media?

Mark

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