It's been a few years since the social media phenomenon hit us and I'd bet that you've joined at least one social network by now. I'd even go as far as to bet that it's Facebook you've signed up to. You've probably signed up to Twitter too - just to have a dabble and to see what all the hype's about, but it's likely Facebook is where you spend most of your time and post most of your updates. In any case, if you've been using either for a considerable amount of time, you'll have developed a tone of voice which best represents you.
On the other hand, if you do a bit of social media management for work, you probably spend most of your time on Twitter. Yes, you might have had a few Facebook apps developed, but with Twitter being such a fast-paced and engaging channel, you'll need to assign more time to managing this platform than any other.
However you use the social media platforms available to you, there's no doubt that you'll feel more comfortable managing your own, personal accounts than managing your employer's accounts. WIth the latter, your work is under scrutiny with every tweet, and one misspelt word or a slightly controversial post could easily land you in deep water.
Can you handle the pressure?
Aside from these obvious pressures, you're also under pressure to deliver results. When I say results, I mean a measurable return on the investment made by your employer to explore what social media has to offer and essentially, keep you employed.
We're only just seeing small to medium sized businesses explore social media and this is primarily because there's so much hype around social media being the 'big thing' of our time and that those not using social media platforms are missing out on an 'incredible marketing tool'. But, if your employer has set aside 6 months for you to discover what social media can bring to the business and you're unable to add anything of real value, it's likely that he'll have no-problem pulling the plug on the whole project. The fact is, business leaders are still skeptical as to what can be achieved through social media and it's up to you to show them the benefits.
Monitor and analyse everything.
With all that said, social media managers should be monitoring everything and should have a very clear idea of what constitutes a return on investment. In an ideal world, social media should be able to deliver sales enquiries and new business but often, that won't come immediately.
Aside from generating enquiries, there's so much more that social media can do. On Facebook, you can engage with your customers through posts, exclusive fan-only content and you can also learn more about your fans through the comprehensive 'Insights' data which Facebook has on offer to Page owners.
On Twitter, you can also engage with existing and potential customers. Maybe you'll use this channel as a sort of 'customer support' line (resources permitting of course)? In doing so, you'll be providing an important service which initially, may not contribute to the bottom line but in the long-term, could have a significant influence on consumer behaviour and sales retention.
However you end up using social media in your business, it is important to work towards demonstrating an added value.
It's all about you.
I read an article recently which related to a piece of research which was conducted in the US which showed that 93% of tweets published by news outlets featured links back to their own sites. The research suggested that for many companies (in particularly news outlets), Twitter is used as a means of broadcasting information rather than sharing and truly engaging with others. The thing that surprised me most about this research was that it was actually conducted in the first place. As a news organisation, you're not exactly going to post links to other news publisher sites are you? Can you imagine The Guardian prompting its followers to go and have a read of the news on The Sun website? No. Just like you've developed a tone of voice for your own, personal social media profiles, you also need to create a tone which best represents your company's values and position. The only way you can do that is to take control of the channel and 'own' the content you push onto your followers. People will follow your company because they want your opinion, your views and updates from your company. The odd 'retweet' to interesting content elsewhere is fine, but it's your content they subscribe to.
Another point to raise relating to this issue comes back to my earlier point. I'm sure that whilst Twitter seems like an ideal platform for news outlets to market through, the powers that be will also be looking for a return on the investment made into social media management. That return might be measured through the number of visits to the site or the number of new subscribers they attract through Twitter. How then, if Twitter and Facebook are used to predominantly share other people's content, would a return be achieved? When managing social media channels for an organisation, it is important to make it predominantly about that organisation.