Top Tips from a Social Media Pro

October 21, 2009 at 3:12 am Leave a comment

In search of top tips from a social media pro, I talked with Alona Cherkassky, a social media strategist who recently came to speak to my Digital Communications class at Columbia. After a ten-year career in broadcast journalism, Alona obtained her M.S. in Strategic Communications at Columbia University, then went on to work at Fleishman-Hillard on their strategy and social media business. Most recently, Alona and a fellow Columbia alum launched their own company, Bite Size Strategies, which Alona manages along with various communications consulting projects for clients that include UNICEF and UN Peacekeeping.

Q: How important is it for a business to have clearly defined social media policies/guidelines?

Alona: It is crucial for businesses to have clear policies that outline exactly what employees can and cannot post on their private blogs. It is mainly done to protect company’s reputation when people not employed by the company are searching for information. Employees must know that posting any type of slander, or uncomplimentary information, or even information that could be considered private to the company, is just not acceptable. However, there are ways to make it work. As an example, I’ve known former colleagues to have had their own blogs. They were able to express their opinions intelligently, but were clear about disclosing that were an employee of a large public relations firm.

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when they jump into social media without a clear strategy?

Alona: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen is taking the old “kitchen sink” approach, as well as the “me too” approach. Companies think, if my competitor is doing it, then I must do it. Social media is just a vehicle for one’s message. That message can be relayed through other mediums but social media allows for interactivity like no other mediums have been able to previously. It requires a carefully thought out strategy, which involves potential crisis management. But most importantly, it requires engagement. If you don’t engage your audience through questions, quizzes, interactivity of any sort, you’re going to lose at this game. The point is to have people come to you because you not only have interesting things to say, but you also facilitate the conversation. And you enable others to congregate under your umbrella, and so on. Remember, social media is a marketing vehicle but it should never be showcased as such. It should be authentic, smart, but never a tool to market your products. It’s a conversation tool. Strategy, potential crisis management (not everyone will say something complimentary about you), engagement, consistency, creativity and out of the box thinking  are all keys to successful social media program.

Q: Can you think of any examples of companies/brands that are really doing it right?

Alona:  Zappos’ CEO regularly tweets and engages with his customers. Ford Motor Company’s Scotty Monty who manages social media, responded to thousands of  inquiries/questions when US automakers got into a ton of trouble. Dell has a robust social media strategy and may have even rescued what was a dying brand. Apple computer – unquestionable. Wells Fargo Bank has at least 7 blogs. Sun Microsystems’ CEO regularly blogs. Visa Business Network started a small business Facebook application and community.

Q: Any tips for a company new to social media?

Alona: Engage! Social media is all about engagement with your audience. Do not use every tool if it doesn’t make sense. Use only those that make sense. It may be just a blog. It may be just a facebook page. Take it a step at a time. Monitor and monitor constantly! Watch what people are saying about you. What is their tone? What is the volume of conversation? Take your cues from this monitoring. Don’t be afraid to lose control.  Allow for it all to take a bunch of time. It’s not an overnight turnaround. You have to be patient and wait for results — but social media actually works, so results will come!

Advertisements

Entry filed under: facebook, How-To, Practices, twitter. Tags: , , .

Facebook at Work = More or Less Productive? Avoiding Facebook Blunders and Social Media Culture Clash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Recent Posts

Categories

Archives


%d bloggers like this: