Managing social media campaigns are unique to each business and not every business out there needs to dedicate the time and money (it’s not free contrary to popular belief), but the truth is the majority will benefit from the increased transparency between business and consumer. If you’re no longer scared to travel to the social media universe be prepared to first, dedicate the time. The first step before you even create a Facebook Fan page (not another personal profile) is to scan the blogs, forums, communities, and groups that already exist. Remind me and I’ll provide you a list of tools to make this easier, but the first tool I used is Google Reader. First you have to find your audience and the majority of the time they’re not all in the same community so give yourself a good few weeks to search, read, and listen. Think about what the people are talking about and how it pertains to your brand, product, or service. Are people speaking positively or negatively about you? Finally, think about how you would respond – if you were to respond. Please, don’t do that just yet. Whenever there is negativity about you in the social media sphere take a deep breath and don’t comment just yet. It’s just like responding to a negative or critical email you received from your boss or supervisor – write down how you feel in a word document and read it over in a few hours before you send it. Now, with social media time is critical so you don’t have the luxury to whine about people bashing your brand – suck it up. If what they are saying is true you might ask for their advice or how they recommend fixing the problem. Do so in a very polite and professional manner. When communicating with your consumers you don’t want to lie or avoid the truth – they will find out. Answer their questions and respond to their statements – always remember to be empathetic and professional. If they’re dead wrong and simply making up false statements about you or your brand then reply (professionally) by addressing the accusation.
As I mentioned social media requires you first to commit (there is no turning back, just like The Matrix). To start create a list of keywords that represent your market and brand. Type them into a Google search and see read the front two or three pages. Now type those keywords into the search box in each of the following social platforms: Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. If you’re familiar with location based networks such as Foursquare and Gowalla monitor these too.

(1) Listen
(2) Monitor
(3) Analyze
(4) Engage
(5) Measure
If your business already has a social media presence let us know why you committed and where you started, the factors you considered, and if you had or developed a social strategy in the comments below.