Let’s be honest: there’s a lot to take in online lately.
We started with Facebook and Twitter, might have dipped our toes into Plurk and Google+, and have communicated with Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat. Who knew that over such a short course of human history that the walls of communication could be broken down in so many ways.
It’s daunting to look around and see just how much the landscape is changing. Even going outside of our role as a business owner or manager, we see people communicating in high-speed, where we have 0 control over what’s being said or mentioned.
Are you freaked out yet?
You don’t have to be.
Being surrounded by platforms and networks doesn’t mean that we have to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen. Social media “experts” will tell you to jump on every network out there and to be everywhere at once, but let’s face it: ain’t nobody got time for that! We have a business to run and – at the end of the day – we’d like to go home and turn off a bit to enjoy life. Randomly spouting out stuff on every network around you can be exhausting and (sometimes) even cause more harm than good.
So what should we do?
Easy: we create a digital strategy and strike with precision.
A digital strategy (at its core) is the planning and execution of interaction opportunities on digital platforms.
Notice that I didn’t say “sell them crap” or “annoy the bejeezus out of them”. We’re not here to shout shout shout our message out. We’re here to interact with our customers, help them out, and then show them why our product is awesome. We’re not running a charity here – we do want to sell stuff. But “people will buy from people they like and trust“, and (if you’re like me), getting blasted multiple times a day by the same product pitch is a good way to get yourself blocked, insulted, and basically not-liked.
The Parts of a Digital Strategy
I’m going to cover this more in detail in later posts, but a digital strategy has a few basic components:
This one’s pretty straight forward: what do you want to accomplish? Not having a goal or objective means you have nothing to measure your progress against. It can be modified or adjusted, but at least starting with a goal in mind means you know which direction you’re going in.
Should you answer every Tom, Dick, and Harry that comes across your site? Perhaps, but that’s a lot of wheel spinning. If you know who you’re looking for, you can dedicate and delegate your resources accordingly. Fires should be put out (and not ignored. Ever. Please don’t try to sweep it under the rug. There is no rug, and it won’t go away), raving fans should be held high on a pedestal, and questions should be answered. And have some fun while you’re at it!
Policies and Guidelines
The “do this” and “don’t do this” lists. Make sure they’re spelt out. Come across a situation not on the list? Deliberate, but don’t be afraid to take risks. And if you screw up, apologize and move on. But regardless of what happens, this list should be updated regularly as new situations occur.
Where are you active? Have a place people can go to grab links to social profiles, take ownership of them, and basically have clue what’s going on. I can’t tell you how many times I talk to people that just don’t know. I don’t know about them, but not knowing something about how my business is being represented online… well that just makes me nervous.
Chain of Command
You should know who to report to and who has the power to do what, and this document will spell it out. Can your “Twintern” give out discount codes like candy? Document it. Make lots of notes. Make sure everyone knows what their role is and when to escalate it.
The basics of a Digital Strategy don’t seem daunting, but it can be a lot to put together. It’s worth the time and setup, however, to know what’s going on in order to empower your staff and to represent your company correctly. There’s a lot of networks out there, but having a clear goal in mind means you can attack each network to the best of your ability and know that you’re going about it the correct way.