Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 | 8 min read
Brands are doing amazing things with social media.
Many have built thriving, loyal communities. They have social media command centers where teams of strategists, writers, designers, and data analysts work together to create clever, engaging content. They experiment with new media like live video and reach audiences in fresh and exciting ways.
But many are now looking towards the next step: Becoming a company with a true social culture.
A company with a social culture is one in which social media plays a central role across the entire business. This enables brands to tap into the true power of social and improve not just marketing, branding, and communications but also product development, customer care, and operations. Employees within a social culture understand digital tools and are encouraged (and enabled) to use them.
It’s a culture that’s smart, agile, flexible, and fast. It’s one that puts the customer first.
This kind of shift doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of constantly advocating for the adoption of social across the organization. It’s generated by iterating as needed and finding ways your brand can stay on top of—and capitalize upon—changes in the social landscape. At Scholastic, for example, when Periscope took off we met with business leads to figure out how to use live video to deliver content to our customers in new ways.
Here are some tips for how to create a social culture at your organization.
Whether you’re just beginning your social media efforts or your brand has been at it for a while, an annual social media audit can ensure that your accounts are advancing your brand’s business goals. If the word “audit” gives you pause—it’s not a friendly word, is it?—call it an analysis or a level-set.
Here are the five steps we use to audit our social media accounts:
Take a close look at how each account performs and record specific issues you notice. Is there too much content or not enough? Does the account support your business goals? Identify examples of content that worked well and content that didn’t.
We use a color-coding system where the most successful accounts are marked in green, those that need some attention are marked in amber, and those with serious issues are bright red.
If you have multiple people managing multiple accounts, now is the time to get organized. Maybe the administrators of each account already know there are issues but don’t quite know how to address them, or maybe they’ve lost interest in maintaining their account altogether. Present your analysis to them and come up with a solution together.
Determine concrete steps to help the amber-level accounts improve. Perhaps a new content calendar, or some exciting events such as live chats or contests can drive the account to the next level. Meanwhile, decide how to address the accounts in red. Don’t be afraid to close an account that’s not adding value for your customers.
Using the results of your audit, create a one-, two-, and five-year social media plan. Clarify where your brand is in the social media landscape now and establish where it should be in the future.
It’s essential to inform your colleagues from other departments about what your company is doing on social. Training all employees in social media best practices is also important, but one training session won’t accomplish much. Instead, consider these ideas:
Share your brand’s social media highlights and analytics with employees on a regular basis. We like to include our top social media stories of the week and incorporate industry news to give some context.
If you have a more formal culture at your workplace, consider hosting quarterly or annual presentations that show your brand’s social media growth and provide updates on the latest digital trends. Bring in external speakers if you can. We host large presentations twice a year where we walk through our social analytics, highlight case studies, and give industry updates.
These sessions are helpful for C-suite executives and people who are more interested in a high-level view of your brand’s digital strategy.
One of my goals is to encourage my colleagues to view our social media team as an in-house center of excellence filled with experts who can advise on their social media ideas and help sort out any issues, from understanding legal rules for giveaways to brainstorming campaign ideas. We like to host informal workshops throughout the year, open to all employees, whether they work on social media or not!
My favorite workshop has become an annual tradition: Before the winter holidays, we host a “naughty and nice” event where we show real examples of brands who’ve done great and not-so-great things on social media. Another fun idea: book a conference room and host “office hours” where anyone can come by to ask questions about social media, whether for business or personal use.
Creating great content is key, but building a social culture requires more than that. Don’t forget about:
Each day I click on interesting links I’ve found on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, adding to an ever-increasing amount of open tabs in my browser. On Fridays, I close them out, unread. You don’t need to shame me for this—I feel bad enough about it!—but the truth is, we are all drowning in content.
With that in mind, it’s important for brands to curate their best links to reduce clutter for their customers. The best social cultures aren’t necessarily those that crank out the most social content—they’re the ones that produce material in the most strategic and engaging way.
If your brand has an excess of content, consider ways you can curate it for your customers most effectively, perhaps a “Must-read Mondays” post or a weekend “ICYMI” recap. Make your customers’ lives easier, generate positive feedback, and improve over time your brand’s social capabilities.
You can produce all the amazing content you want, but if your followers are showing you that they don’t care about it, it’s time to shift gears.
Analyze your click-through rate, your comments, and your views. Encourage your employees to experiment! Maybe a blog post you shared on Facebook would get more engagement as an Instagram video, or that Twitter chat you hosted would be more successful as a Facebook live video. Incorporate those lessons back into your business plans (It could save the business time and money!)
Above all, keep your employees apprised of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, in order to ensure that your company’s social culture continues to grow and improve.
New digital tools are shiny. I get it. But not every tool is right for your brand. A true social culture isn’t about having a presence on every platform; it’s about figuring out how each platform can support your business goals.
And if it can’t? You don’t need to be there.
Confession time: my team and I eavesdrop. We wander around the office and loiter in the lunchroom. We ask questions—a lot of questions. And by spending a few minutes each week doing this, we often uncover exciting things happening within the company that weren’t on our editorial calendar but are perfect fodder for our brand accounts.
Often, it’s that kind of content—unexpected, behind-the-scenes, impulsive—that speaks to the heart of your brand’s mission. And it’s that kind of content that builds brand loyalty, both within your organization and with customers.
It’s that kind of content that helps a company build a social culture.