How I spend my professional day has changed more in the last two years than in the preceding 15. Social media has played a critical role in leading those changes.
In fact, according to the "Summer 2011 Social Business Report" -- a 12 million person study by NetProspex -- marketers lead the pack right under recruiters for social influence. This should come as no surprise to those of us in the marketing discipline. But how are we keeping up with this new workload? Let's face it, when social media hit the ranks, our other responsibilities didn't shrink. If anything, the advent of social media made many of my former duties more urgent.
"Today, social media has become a marketing imperative. Getting started in a routine can be the biggest barrier to success with social," Maribeth Ross, VP of marketing for NetProspex, said.
Indeed, Ross said it best -- social media is a marketing imperative. But even those of us lucky enough to hire dedicated social professionals must address the increasing burden to create content, listen to the market, and respond within shrinking windows of acceptable feedback cycles.
Social media professionals play an important role in coordinating and education function, but they can not replace everything marketing professionals need to respond in the social media world. Yet, no one has taken work away to make time for this new demand. So how does the already-overworked marketing professional make time for social media in a meaningful way? This article outlines five social habits that all marketers can find time to adopt.
Schedule it! (Two 15-minute increments per day)
The nature of social is fluid, and so we fool ourselves into thinking to be effective we must be engaged all the time. As a result, we rarely get social listening to the top of our priority list. Instead, we find ourselves postponing Friday post-work drinks in a desperate attempt to meet self-imposed weekly social metrics. It is true social is fluid, but it is also true that unless you are working for a breaking news network, scheduled social listening (and responding) is perfectly acceptable. Interrupt-driven models don't scale. We all have great intentions of proactively engaging with the community, but unless you actually put time on your calendar, it gets put to the bottom of the list. Physically block two 15-minute sessions on your calendar to do nothing but monitor priority social channels at least three days a week. Your next natural question might be "what time of day is best?" Social is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week medium. I've learned the only good time of day is the one you will actually keep! Pick times that work for your schedule, even if it varies from one day to another. Just make a routine and stick to it.
Pass the baton
If engaging with your community via social channels is a race, stop thinking of it as a marathon or daily sprint. Instead, consider it a relay race. Many organizations think of social media as marketing's to-do. This isn't a scalable model. Instead consider your role as a coach. This is particularly important when it comes to existing customer engagement.
Justin Pirie, cloud strategist at Mimecast, pointed out the most important thing you can do is, "Monitor your brand! And at a minimum hourly if you care about delivering outstanding customer service."
But wait, I know what you're thinking. You just told me to schedule social check-ins twice a day. And I meant it. Here is where you pass the baton to customer support. Your role should be to educate and tool customer support, not do the engagement for them.
Maribeth Ross shared a great example of how social coaching is done at NetProspex:
"Our director of buzz sends emails to the entire team, we call it 'buzz yourself,' with compelling content for the team to tweet, "like," and share. We've found that by providing content, people become significantly more comfortable with social media activity and begin doing it on their own."