In our previous post in this series, we discussed what the small business owner should be on the lookout for when seeking outside help with their social media goals. Now that you have gotten over the initial cold feet and are ready to dive full on into a serious and committed relationship with a social media vendor, you may be wondering “Now what? Where do we go from here?” It may be tempting to do the awkward 8th grade side-step dance, hoping that the two of you fall into some sort of groove. Nah, it’s better to do a little research, establish what goals you want to achieve in bringing a social media vendor into your operations, and shop around until you find “the one.”
Define your goals
Before sending that first email or making that first call to a potential vendor, get some of your own goals and desires written down first. You may focus on the idea of supplementing your current marketing platform; not replacing what you have already established, but bolstering previous work to in order to establish an even broader reach and tighter results. In refining or even setting up your channels, you should strive to become that company that makes customers stop and think, “Wow, they’ve really thought of everything, they’re everywhere!” Customers want you to seem accessible and connected, so this should also be a goal. They also want to believe that whoever they do business with “has it together”and is very interested in them; another goal needs to be the level and frequency of contact you wish to establish. But besides connecting you better with your customers, your channels also have the ability to drive a much higher volume of traffic to your websites, which could then have the ability of improving sales and revenue, accomplishing yearly financial goals at a faster rate.
Who will you dance with?
So, now comes the fun part: Choosing the right partner. You will have a bunch of questions to ask, but what is a primary consideration is the “feel” of your vendor. Does it feel like discussions leave you slightly flustered and uncomfortable, or do they seem like they “get you” and are on the same page? We say this because really, it should fit nicely and your vendor should set your mind at ease; after all, they will be someone you’ll be working with for at least a few months, maybe even be representing your brand on your channels through the messaging they provide.
What ultimately makes for a good partner is a vendor that brings:
- A sound sense of expectations: they don’t promise the moon and make unrealistic predictions about your success in use of social media
- Variety of packages: they offer not just one, but several kinds of packages to suit most budgets
- Reporting: they can provide reports and updates to you that show the progress of your social media efforts, before and after you began with them
- Reasonable direction: they give you guidance that approaches social media with attainable goals and expectations for messaging and audience interaction
- Clear expertise: they are knowledgeable and are able to take the “tech language” and put it into terms you can understand
- Proof of success: they have recent case studies available which showcase past success
- Diversity in channels: they have an active presence on a multitude of channels, not just the “big two” (Facebook & Twitter)
- Branding and design skills: they know the importance of branding your channels appropriately and have the staff to help do this for you
- Ad caution: they talk with you about ad use, but don’t make that the major focal point in generating an interested and engaged followership
- Clear strategy: you know ahead of time what your vendor will provide for you on a weekly basis and they give you ways to get the most from the services they provide you
- Training options: they can train you and your staff on use and management of your spaces
- Message and content management: they offer the option of handling your messaging seamlessly for you
Together, you and your chosen vendor should work to define the best possible spots to place your business and your messaging, and also should work hand in hand in order to ensure that the branding across various channels is 100% consistent. Your vendor may also want to implement an editorial calendar, something that we put to use for our own clients, in order to keep all messaging on track and to hold your staff accountable. Each of these elements, none more important than the next, will eventually lead to gaining and building an authentic, engaged and interactive audience. After all, merely gaining a synthetic, manufactured number of followers does nothing to actually impact the growth of your business, now does it? Be very careful of vendors or even applications that promise scores of followers, as this kind of false “growth” can often do more harm than good, losing or even diluting your authentic follower base in the mix.
The ultimate goal of utilizing social media should be further develop the conversation and the relationship that your small business has with its audience and customers. Once the plan is set in place and you have now found your soul-mate of a vendor, settle in for the long haul; this is when things get good. If you have questions about the social media services we provide, please check our social channels or visit our website.
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