Data collection and analytics are hugely important for measuring how well your social media initiatives are performing, and should always play a part in decision making when it comes to new strategies. However, it is also important to find a balance between looking at the numbers and acting according to them, while still allowing creativity to flow in both your proactive and reactive interactions with your audiences. For example, keywords are crucially important when it comes to blogging, but integrating huge amounts of keywords into your content to the detriment of actually communicating the message you are trying to convey, is a common mistake. Don’t dilute your message just for the sake of a few extra hits – keep your brand integrity intact!
Occasionally within a company, a decision will be made that social media is the necessary next step, and that responsibility will be given to a team who have no experience or knowledge in that area, which may lead to objection and fear of the unknown. In 2011, I would say that anyone in marketing, PR, and pretty much any area of business should endeavour to at least have a basic understanding of social media. If, however, there isn’t a savvy social media expert within your business, invest in training, experiment with participation, and be prepared to listen to your audience and engage with them. There is no textbook with all the answers, but you will learn how to interact successfully with your audience pretty quickly.
In my experience, it has always been a challenge to be the face of a brand, whilst at the same time retaining approachability to your customer or client. When you are issuing a blog on behalf of your brand, or responding on Twitter, you will most likely find a lot more interaction if you present yourself as an individual representing a company – i.e. James from Enghouse Interactive, than you will if you communicate solely as the brand itself (which can appear as impersonal and unapproachable). This personal touch, whilst still retaining a professional presence, is the right balance for interacting with customer, consumers and often even other businesses. Ultimately you will be communicating with another individual whatever way you interact with them via social media, so present yourself as such – with a clear association to the brand.