Tuesday, 8 December 2015

How to Better Prepare Your Social Media for 2016

Can you believe it? There are only three and a half more weeks in 2015. The year was a busy one, jam-packed with wall-to-wall Tweeting and posting, a couple of new networks to figure out (How do I Snapchat?) and countless questions about the future of social media for business. Thankfully, the year is now coming to an end. You can just phone in these last few weeks and deal with January once it gets here, right?
You know I’m going to say ‘wrong.’
These last three weeks of the year might not be your most active, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be productive. Instead of killing time until your holiday arrives, there are a few simple ways you can help your business on social media before you forget about work for a while.
We’ve gathered three different ways that you can use social media to end 2015 on a high note. Check them out:

Close those support tickets

Social media customer service as a spectator sport
Social media has become a customer service channel for all businesses—whether they’ve acknowledged it or not. Thankfully, most brands have come to acknowledge that fact, and have taken steps to ensure they’re finding and responding to any customer problems or comments on Facebook, Twitter and beyond.
Unfortunately, there’s a but.
Despite their best efforts, many businesses are slow to close out their customer support issues on social media. This is the result of many factors, including:
  • Higher volume on social media as a result of ease of use for customers
  • Sporadic interaction from the second party on social networks
  • Disorganized systems for dealing with social media customer service tickets
While the reasons may be understandable from a business perspective, that won’t go very far to alleviating customers. Lithium Technologies found in a study that over 50 percent of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within 1 hour. The number is even higher (72 percent) if it’s a complaint.
Is your business meeting those deadlines? If not, you’re not alone. Brandwatch found that only 11.2 percent of retail brands respond to questions within an hour. Now is the time to change that. It’s the end of the year, so you’re probably not starting any new campaigns or working head down on sales plans or events (unless you’re in retail, then you probably are). With the extra “dead time” many people have right before the holidays, you should be making a concerted effort to close out any and all outstanding support tickets.
Work with your team to divvy up the existing social media inquiries and respond as best you can. Then, work to address any new tickets in a timely manner as they arrive. The extra effort will allow you to start fresh in the new year, while helping your customers out during the stressful period before the holidays. Your efforts are sure to earn you some goodwill to close out 2015 on a high note.

Weed out unused profiles

 Image by John Liu via flickr
Image by John Liu via flickr
Around the holidays you tend to get a whole bunch of new stuff. A lot of it is great—thoughtful gifts you’ll use and cherish. But a lot of it, sorry to say, is often pointless. It’s knick knacks and stocking stuffers that you throw into a drawer to collect dust. One way to avoid this waste is to simply acknowledge what you’re not going to use, and get rid of it. This same logic applies to your social media accounts.
For several years businesses would create accounts on every social network and service because they felt like they had to. Over time, most people tended to hone in on the one or two networks that they liked best, or that were most effective with their audience. As a result, the other accounts, the unwanted ones, were left alone, with sporadic updates, little to no engagement, and providing very little value to the business.
Now is the time to trim the fat. Perform a quick audit of your social media profiles and identify the ones you are not maintaining or that aren’t performing up to snuff. Then, cut them loose. We understand that it’s hard to let accounts go after you’ve built an audience on them, no matter how small. But if you’re not updating these profiles regularly, you’re actually hurting your business. People who follow those accounts expecting engagement won’t get any, and will be left with a bad taste in their mouths. They’ll feel neglected by your brand, which is probably worse than simply not being on the network at all.
Take the leap and get rid of your ignored profiles. Then you can start the new year with a renewed focus on your most successful channels.

Actually plan your 2016 social media strategy

Integrated Marketing Communications Plan
With the holidays approaching and the prospect of time off, vacation, presents and parties, it can be really hard to try and focus on January (or February… or March). Like, really, seriously challenging. But you need to bite the bullet and start planning your 2016 social media strategy now.
First of all, many people close out the year by doing retrospectives. They look back on their efforts, identify what worked and what didn’t, close out their quarterly and yearly goals, and generally immerse themselves in the year that was. All of that information should absolutely guide your entire 2016 strategy.
You should continue doing whatever was working well—and allocate budget accordingly—possibly expanding on it or ramping it up in the new year. You should identify the weaknesses in your existing strategy and plot out ways to plug those holes starting in the first quarter.
You can also break down what topics that you covered in great detail and establish those that deserve more attention in 2016. Finally, look at what people are already predicting as social trends for the new year (social video anyone?), and ensure you’re prepared for swings in that direction. In summary, the final few weeks of the year should provide you with the insights and data that will make your next year more productive.
Another reason to start planning your 2016 social media strategy right now is the simple fact that the first few weeks of January are probably going to be very unproductive. We all have this idea in our heads that we’ll come back from the holidays refreshed and raring to go. The truth is, most of us sit back down at the desk that first week of January with a big frown on our faces. Another holiday has come and gone and, let’s face it, we’re not all that excited to be back at work. People tend to take time getting back into the swing of things, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to hammer out your next strategy during this crucial period.
Instead, build your strategy now, so that when you get back to work you already have a plan laid out. It takes far less concerted effort to follow the plan than it does to create the plan in the first place.