Diving into social media is a step that must be planned and well thought out. As with other decisions in business, this needs to be planned.
While social is my industry, I find that clients have given me a lot to learn as it relates to the way other industries look at and take the step into social.
The biggest risk is not being ready. And by ready I mean not having the infrastructure (or in my case, having the consultant) in place to manage and plan the maintenance and ongoing relationships within social media. Having the right person is almost as important as having A person. You can't think you're going to load someone who already has a 40-hour a week job and let them "just" Tweet here and there with this task (though this happens more times than we care to admit).
By the same token, ensuring cohesiveness is also a risk. Social media is part of marketing. It's not a replacement for it nor is it a separate entity. Ensuring cohesiveness in your social media plan is imperative. Working towards the voice of the brand being the same across platforms and brand messaging is key. Again, this speaks back to the idea of having a plan.
I always tell my clients "you're already on social whether you're there to lend your voice to the conversation or not". That leads to one of my biggest challenges as a social media manager: education. Educating the brand in social. Allowing them the time and freedom to understand this new world. And providing them with the tools to help them gain that knowledge is imperative in ensuring success in the social media space.
As bloggers we do this all the time, pass on information to brands and PR firm regarding social media. How many times have you been asked to participate in a campaign where the hashtag being used is too long or doesn't make sense? Or worse yet, they tell you they don't have a hashtag or want to use the hashtag that the brand uses day in and day out for consistency purposes?
Educating a brand as to the value of social media and the intricacies of it is the first step. And so is helping them understand that not everyone that has a Facebook page and/or Twitter account qualifies as a social media manager. I know some of my cohorts have had to go in and clean up what someone who was hired without knowledge or experience has left behind.
And then that gets us into clean up and reputation management which we see more and more within social media. That's where those social listening tools really come in handy as does that game plan. Being prepared for responding to a negative post is important. Sometimes we only get one Tweet to salvage that relationship. How many times has a brand sent you a reply to a complaint that has you rolling your eyes because it is obviously a canned response?
Social media is about relationships (have I said this enough?). It is about being authentic (yes, the word is overused but very much applicable here). But is not separate from your business practices or your company culture. It all works together as a continuation of your brand and your messaging.
If you need help with either getting educated or creating a social media strategy, you know how to reach me.