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Your 2015 guide to effective social media management

05 January 2015 | 12:42 am

Awareness and understanding of social media grew dramatically throughout 2014. Which means that whilst you aim for all round improvement in your life, it is probably also time to challenge yourself and your team to step up a gear when it comes to social media delivery.  And to help get you on your way, we have compiled our 2015 social media management guide.

1) 'Manage' your social media with a capital ‘M’

Are you managing your social media or is it managing you? A number of research studies conducted in 2014 reported that businesses were labelling themselves as ‘must try harder’ when it came to managing their social media.  In fact, 69% of the businesses surveyed identified that efficiencies could be achieved if they mastered the management issues.

The Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing has been working hard to find and publish articles that help to define the term 'social media management' as it has been found to be one of those tricky phrases wrapped in assumption and misunderstanding. The lack of understanding has caused problems cross departmentally within organisations who are grappling with the allocation of roles and responsibilities for social media delivery. It is hard to manage something (with a capital M) if you are struggling to define it!

As a reader of this blog you will already recognise the importance and impact of planning ahead when it comes to social media as well as the benefits of using social media management systems (SMMS) to best effect. If you are currently exploring options or looking to upgrade your SMMS we would naturally encourage you to make 2015 the year that you buy British to ensure that you are meeting all of your compliance and governance protocols with regards to UK data handling.

During 2014, a number of sector specific guidelines were published to establish minimum standards and protocols of social media delivery. For example, the financial services industry will be influenced heavily by the FCA guidelines (to be published in spring), likewise, the College of Policing Code of Ethics was published last year. So it is also important to understand if you are expected to meet standards of best practice within your sector or if draft guidelines have been published for consultation, how you can contribute to shaping them before they are set in stone.

If you have ticked off all the operational management issues then your focus can turn to reviewing the 'pinch points' within the customer journey. Marketeers during 2015 will be striving to achieve 'painless' customer journeys via social media. John Lewis had a tough time over Christmas when it inadvertently lost traffic to a Mr Lewis (@johnlewis) who was inundated with tweets  inspired by the Christmas campaign featuring Monty the penguin, who captured the nations hearts but caused a big headache for official @johnlewisretail account during their customer engagement process.

Looking at the fantastic sales results for John Lewis - the social media glitch appears to have caused minimal damage to the brand overall, smoothed out with some impressive crisis PR (in the form of a free penguin for Mr Lewis). However, understanding the risks fully of social media delivery is a critical element of managing social media effectively.

It is also important to take time out to ask/ survey your audience about their likes/dislikes when it comes to your content. Understanding the types of content that your audiences responds to will be time well spent as you head into 2015!

2) Revisit the compass

The demands of social media have evolved significantly over the past 12 months. At CrowdControlHQ we have witnessed first hand a shift towards a greater quantity of customer service engagement over the ‘soap box’ communication/ shouting of content associated with 2013.

Take time at the beginning of 2015 to revisit the trends associated with your accounts, evaluating the ratio of your outbound content versus inbound customer service queries that you receive to understand that nature of your social media channels. Are you an information giver? A fixer? Or principally a sharer of other people’s content? And of course, more importantly, is your current level of activity falling in line with the communications objectives associated with your social media activity?

We have already seen a drive in the UK to rename 'customer call centres' to customer handling centres as more social media customer service representatives are appointed to manage the influx of inbound activity.  Many public service organisations, including the Police are responding to the public demand for contact via social media with social media integrated fully into their emergency 999 centres.

3) Be Brutal

Are your current social media channels providing the right environment for the audience you are targeting? Are your audience still frequenting them, or have they moved on to new pastures? You may need to have a re-think, evolve your approach and/or content or even get rid of a channel that is failing to hit the mark. Slogging a dead horse is a waste of time, energy and content!

For example, many B2B audience report that their Facebook Fanpages are less about customer engagement today and more about supporting their websites through advertising and promotion. Whereas, at the opposite end of the scale B2C brands are finding an increasing number of customer service enquiries being posted on platforms like Facebook, raising the issue of response times, transparency and in some cases crisis PR.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been with us for many years but the principles are the same when it comes to engagement regardless of the platform - Content is King!

4) Be Safe

This Christmas highlighted one of the biggest security breaches of the decade. The cyber attack of Sony certainly made the world sit up and take notice.  But it is not just the big brands that are suffering unwanted attention.  Towards the end of 2014 we reported on the sports clubs being targeted by terrorists and with the Rugby World Cup 2015 firmly in our sights, there will be increased pressure on Rugby Clubs to get security issues prioritised by the club volunteers who are the backbone of British Sport.

As a result, there is renewed focus on how to protect ourselves from attack.  We reported on the four types of security breach in December - and demonstrated that they are not only from hackers or disgruntles employees, but can also occur through security blunders caused by well meaning (but misguided) employees or brand advocates.

Perhaps the two most challenging events of 2014 were 'the snappening' - the security breach of Snapchat, impacting on many British teenagers, leaving many too embarrassed or shy to seek help as well as the webcam security breach, allowing hackers to see right into the heart of British homes.

5) Listen Up!

The growth of customer service engagement has created a focus on better listening, ensuring that personalisation of response can take place.  Listening in on popular ‘buzz’ topics enables brands, business and organisations to understand needs and wants better and understand how competitors are gaining a competitive edge.

So taking the time to review your listening activity could unlock a very creative and impactful campaign during 2015. For tips on using SMMS for better listening have a quick listen to Kate Allum here.

6) Collaborate more effectively

There are many strategic ways to grow reach and improve effectiveness.

The first port of call is obviously collaboration across internal teams. As people found their feet with customer service enquires during 2014 we heard of the severe growing pains of response teams.  In one example, a customer service enquiry linked to a leisure centre swimming pool, which landed on a Saturday afternoon (at the time when the customer was swimming with their family) ended up taking nearly two weeks to resolve -  generating 17 emails across 8 members of staff.

The issue - there was no clear defined route of where the query should be directed, or who should respond and being manually managed, the delay of internal email back and forth in establishing protocols on the hoof, added to the frustration of the customer who took to the press to vent their frustration. In reality the inbound query could have been automatically forwarded to someone who was on duty that weekend, with a protocol in place for response to avoid the comment left unchecked on a Facebook page for days whilst members of the public got involved in the discussion.

Internal Collaboration is also how geographically diverse teams can learn from each other and support one another with content and campaign execution, facilitated through robust and secure SMMS.

In 2015, we also expect to see much more collaboration externally between social media managers across a variety of businesses, brands and organisations. Having a social media clear plan, preferably written down so that it is shareable and the basis for discussion with potential partners is key.We are already seeing sponsors support Charities ‘in kind’ through collaboration on social media as well as supply chain and employee engagement campaigns created to grow reach.

If you were to focus your efforts on just 5 social media gatekeepers this year - who would they be? Just think of all the time, energy and resource you could save by working together to achieve mutual goals.

Watch this space as we report on best practice during 2015.

 7) Future proof your social media policy

The New Year is a great time to take stock of the foundations for success.  We have witnessed a major amount of 'lessons learnt' in 2014 and it is perhaps time for your organisation to review its' own social media policy. It is essential to ensure that the benefits of the policy are highlighted with buy in (and preferable input) from employees, taking time to understand the areas where they need help and clarity in delivering social media effectively on behalf of the organisation.

As the policy will in effect define the ground rules for employees (and perhaps suppliers too) it is really important that there is a cross departmental approach to updating them to ensure that they reflect the very latest thinking and approach from across HR, IT and Legal departments.

Naturally, the creation of the policy can also lead to the identification of training needs as employees come to grips with areas they may fall short on and this is also a key element of getting 'match fit' for 2015. A great case study of policy and training working hand in hand is discussed in our Crash Scene Selfies blog ( one of our most popular blogs of 2014).

8) Measure Up

We have written many blogs on analytics - the challenges, the myths and the presentation of board papers in particular! Yet we hear that some social media managers are still being evaluated entirely on the number of followers or page likes rather than engagement and effective reach metrics.  Having a top end social media management system enables teams to really sharpen the focus and impact of social media activity and whilst analytics don’t rock everyones boat, they certainly win the day when it comes to securing additional investment and resource to expand the scope of the social media efforts as well as highlighting what is working and what’s not in the day to day delivery of social media.

We will be helping many organisations to 'Measure up' during 2015 through our surveys, white papers and case studies and if you would like to contribute, please do get in touch.

So we hope that 2015 marks the year that you take your social media up a gear and if you have other ideas to share please tweet us @CrowdControlHQ or get in touch here.

If you would like to request a demo of CrowdControlHQ - the UK's leading social media risk management and compliance platform please get in touch here.

 

Michelle Leavesley @Leavesm

Marketing Director - Marketing Director, Lecturer in Marketing Communications at Birmingham Business School, Member Institute of Directors IoD