Let’s bring social media strategy back 100 years:
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, did not invent the automobile but he perfected the process of making it. Ford didn’t ask “how can we do this?” but rather “how can we do this better?” To take advantage of social media, your company must have the same philosophy. Here are some Ford-inspired suggestions to consider while thinking about your company’s approach to social media:
1. Do not mirror other campaigns. Instead, seek out a social media strategy that fits your company. Take Wheat Thins as an example: In late 2010, Wheat Thins began building a social media strategy on Twitter and YouTube involving quirky, unique marketing tactics that were different from other nutritious (dare I say boring?) cracker brands. By surprising loyal follower, Chris Macho, with a moving billboard in his honor and creating the confusingly hilarious “DoMINATRIX” character, Wheat Thins had the digital community talking.
2. Create a social media “assembly line.” Ford’s assembly lines used hundreds of pieces to create a finished Model T. Your assembly line uses numerous strategic social platforms to create one overall B2B social media strategy. British oil and gas company, BP, used this strategy after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as part of their crises communication strategy. BP’s Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts became outlets for them to join the conversation and begin to repair their brand. Looking at each profile, you’ll notice YouTube videos, tweets, Facebook posts and a Flickr stream showing their efforts to restore the coast, support alternative energy and positive impacts in the Gulf community. You should always take time to discover what channels will best accomplish your goals. Then use this “assembly line” to support a cohesive marketing strategy.
3. Focus on your customer. Henry Ford looked past his end product and focused on what his customers wanted: an affordable price. In social media, your customers want engaging ideas and content. Find out what that content is by doing an influencer audit; you can use programs like Sysomos to help. We recently used this platform to discover the top 40 influencers in the Atlanta area that are driving discussions on environmental and green trends to help our client know exactly who to talk to and what topics will build interaction in the region.
4. Use analytics. Like all manufacturing processes, Ford’s assembly lines relied on hard data. He counted. How many seconds to install a drive shaft? How many minutes does each color paint take to dry? To improve, he needed to analyze these numbers. Twitter is a great social site to get creative with analytics. Using tools like Bitly, Tweetstats, Twitter Counter and Twitonomy, you’ll be able to document data that includes what links are being clicked, your pace of increase/decrease in users and popularity of hashtag campaigns. With this knowledge, you’ll know what types of tweets make your followers look twice and apply that to improving future communications. Here’s a list of some fun Twitter analytics tools that will get you started: “10 Awesome Twitter Analytics and Visualization Tools.”
As our history lesson draws to an end, there’s one last thing to discuss: a timeline. Many organizations make the mistake of wanting immediate satisfaction. Like a late-night chocolate craving, companies lust for viral videos, Facebook likes and Twitter followers. The problem is, these numbers mean nothing without engagement. Instead we should approach the platform like Ford: What is the best process? How can we do things better? What will lend long term results? Take your time in developing a strategy and the best resources to use in the process. Only then will you have mastered Ford’s crash course in social media.
“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” –Henry Ford
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