Editor’s note: This post was written by Rohan, who creates digital master plans at E2M Solutions for companies seeking advanced search marketing services. He also works on mobile UX improvement for startups and sui generis brands at OnlyDesign.org. Hit him up on Google+ for a chat on any of these areas.
The typical social media team operates in the middle of a continual, churning chaos of users, suppliers, competitors, agencies and what not. With change being the only constant in such an environment, the only way your social media marketing has any hope of surviving is by being agile and adaptive.
Here I refer to agility not just in terms of speed and nimbleness, it also stands in for the ‘agile philosophy’ that is a fundamental principle of Marketing 2.0. How much does being agile really count from a social media perspective? Let’s find out.
Solutions Are Bigger Than Strategies
According to the agile philosophy, mega plans and grand strategies can wait. What cannot wait are results. While I am not one to write off planning and strategy entirely, it’s true that often we can’t see the wood for the trees.
In my experience, it’s a lot more effective to decide what you need to achieve and get to it without much ado. Your brand will thank you for it. Your users will thank your responsiveness even more.
Customers regularly turn to social media with the expectation of immediate results for their service related issues. In such cases, speed is of the essence in responding to and fixing a customer’s problems.
Many of us mistakenly think that hustle, tempo, sensitivity and responsiveness can only be achieved by small brands on social media. Nike proves us dead wrong with its instant gratification approach. It has a dedicated Twitter handle for tackling customer queries – @NikeSupport – in addition to the main @Nike handle. Nike has numerous other specialized handles dedicated to various sports and product lines.
Another key aspect of putting solutions over strategy is pushing for many small wins instead of working towards one large victory. An agile social media approach looks at pleasing users on a daily basis, instead of gratifying one user in a gigantic way once in a while.
By now, we have learnt that successful social media marketing works on goodwill built up over every single day. Making the customers feel important, solving their issues instantly, reaching out to them to thank them for their business are all small, yet extremely significant wins that a brand adds to its kitty on an everyday basis as compared to a mega contest hosted once a year.
Take a close look at the screenshot above. Nike Support exemplifies agile social media marketing with a new customer problem fixed every 3.2 minutes in this random sample alone!
Focus On Sustainable, Not One-Off Activities
Unlike the literal meaning of the word itself, agile is not all about speed. It is also about reproducibility of results. Social media strategies that care about vanity metrics instead of a long term, sustainable relationship with their users are slowly but surely getting the axe from leading brands.
An agile social media plan is made up of activities that are building blocks that work towards the larger goal that your brand wants to achieve. Let me explain this with an example.
Let’s say you manage a sporting goods brand, which is facing a drought in engagement rates on social media. A knee jerk reaction to growing engagement rates would be to run a contest with extremely low entry barriers and a grand prize of fifty season tickets to Yankees games.
While this plan might work in the short term by getting your numbers up instantly, it will not offer you sustained results. Your engagement rates are bound to dip once the contest ends and things go back to normal.
A more practical approach would be to target super fans with content that they will truly appreciate and share. First filter your fans based on their activity levels and then build a custom campaign like a “Best Of” video series that highlights spectacular sporting moments in history.
This would be an easy way of getting eyeballs as well as shares. Considering there is no grand, expensive prize involved in this idea, this can be turned into a scheduled event on you weekly social media calendar, thus offering you regular interactions and continued visibility.
Energy drink brand Red Bull actually implements the exact same example I just quoted above and has managed to turn it into a fine art.
Red Bull has identified its target audience very clearly and has also discovered the exact type of content that this audience appreciates the most.
Putting two and two together, it consistently creates and promotes content that gets shared across its fan base keeping the most critical aspect of social media – engagement – humming along nicely. Now that’s what I’d call a shining example of a truly sustainable social media approach!
Down With The Walls
Lastly, but extremely important, a key tenet of the agile school of thought is the interaction between different teams. Agile principles state that involving cross functional teams in the creation process leads to lower product issues and better performance.
Invest in project management tools like, say Trello or Basecamp to help various team members get on board and contribute meaningfully to the social media machine. If multi-functionality project tools sound too complex for your taste, opt for a simple email plugin like GrexIt that will help you collaborate with cross functional teams straight from your inbox.
Pick this nugget and apply it liberally to your social media marketing program. ‘Why’ you ask? Because social media is meant to reflect the character of your brand. Now your brand character is obviously not made up of the social media team alone. Get multiple voices into the content creation process and liven up the flavors of your social media product.
Google embodies an agile social mindset with its brand blog that has posts from employees across functions as varied as their legal team, individual product teams (Search, Android, you get the drift…), the CSR team, the marketing and communications team and more.
Many brands allow employees to speak on behalf of the company on social media, but with certain riders of course. Typically, employees are directed to steer clear of sensitive inside data like financial information, new product development, legal cases and the like.
This team spirit when it comes to social media helps brands in multiple ways. By allowing individual employees to speak for themselves, they empower employees and tell them how important they are to the company.
The information that comes straight from the horse’s mouth (instead of the social media manager’s) is usually more accurate, richer and more credible. It also fosters a culture of openness in the company that goes a long way in building inter-departmental trust and cooperation.
An agile social media marketing strategy breaks down the gargantuan task of straddling multiple social networks into small bite sized packages that make the entire process seem much easier to handle. It is nimble on its feet, quick to respond to users and incrementally builds social relationships every single day. Now who would not want a piece of that?