Navigating the social media landscape

By: Magda Walczak

As a company, what can you do with social media? How do you get started? How do you even know what your options are? I’ve gone through that confusion. Believe me, I know how you feel. Through the course of my blog I hope that I will help fellow web professionals answer those questions for their companies. For now, I offer you one of the best visual social media devices I’ve come across. I hope it will get you started in outlining what your options are.social media landscape

As I prepare for adtech Beijing, I’ve been looking for some good images to use in my presentation and I came across one of my favourite representations of social media (above). Although it’s incomplete, it neatly categorizes the main types of activities that are possible in the social web world.

Social media landscape

The main activities the graphic outlines that companies can engage in are to: publish, share, discuss, network, microblog, live-stream, livecast, live in a virtual world, participate in or create social and MMO games. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, what industry you’re in and what your company culture is, you may do any combination of these activities. Because there are so many potential ways for a customer to engage with your brand/company, it’s extremely important to set a clear social media strategy and not just write off social media as a fluffy trend the tech companies are doing. Literally every company can go social. Knowing how to get started can be a little confusing, though.

What Real Insurance does with social media

(I wrote this post when I was Head of eCommerce at Real Insurance)

As an insurance company with a transparent and honest (but somewhat laid-back) culture, at Real Insurance we focus mainly on the “share” and “microblog” aspects of the social media landscape wheel. Why? Because our primary objectives are to manage our brand reputation and engage our customers (with a secondary objective of lead generation). All else is just icing on the cake.

We actively monitor what’s being said about Real via tools like SocialMention and we respond to feedback on our brands, be it good or bad. Where we can’t respond because the site doesn’t allow it, we use Sidewiki to comment. If the feedback is good, we’ll thank you. If it’s bad, we’ll admit if we’re wrong and we’ll do our best to rectify the situation. That’s why we have clear work flows internally for following up on any complaints that we see in the social world. The end result? Having as much control as possible over our brand, customers who know they are being heard and staff empowered to help customers.

How you can get started with your social media strategy

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s an ancient Chinese proverb which rings true in the case of social media strategy as well. Start small. Set up a blog. If you can, get your CEO to blog. After all, he/she is the expert on your company. Set up a Twitter account. Then use Twitterfeed to automatically tweet new posts to Twitter. There, you’re already social! After that, check out the many resources on social media on Mashable to start learning.

Get your feet wet with Twitter and absorb everything you read. Think it through and outline a strategy that makes sense for your company. Then slowly add channels as appropriate. Remember another Chinese proverb: “Don’t be afraid of growing slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.”

Good luck with your social media activities. It’s a very exciting space where brands can really get close to their customers and create positive interactions between the commercial and “real” world. I, for one, can’t wait to see what cool new tool or networks comes out next.

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Always hungry. Nuts for dogs. Love to travel. I write about marketing, food, web, travel and whatever else strikes my fancy.

2 thoughts on “Navigating the social media landscape

  1. Thank you so much for this post. Social media is becoming an ever-increasing important part of entrepreneurship to the point where if you are not using it you are at a competitive disadvantage. Yet at the same time, since it is so new, many people are just not familiar enough with it to use it in conjunction with their business. I hope this article clear up some misconceptions for many entrepreneurs.

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