Building a Successful Social Media Program

There have been some epic social media fails by corporations. American Apparel posted an image to celebrate the 4th of July on its Tumblr stream with “#smoke” and “#clouds.” Unfortunately, their young employee used an image of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding, thinking it was fireworks. A Chrysler social media contractor tweeted an offensive and profane message about Detroit drivers on the company page instead of his personal page. It was retweeted by thousands before it could be removed.

All companies can learn from these high profile errors when it comes to strategy for their social accounts. Best practices start with a clear governance policy and procedure ensuring all of the proper pieces are in place. A strong governance policy must establish a hierarchy within the team and ensure that incoming and outgoing topics are reviewed and escalated through content criteria. Planned messaging must be reviewed to flow with trending stories. Finally, lead decision makers must commit to being available to determine a response to negative items quickly.

Celtic creates social content for the TreeHouse Foods brand Lofthouse Cookies, providing information about new cookie varieties, nut-free choices and celebration ideas. We also monitor visitor comments and customer service requests, escalating responses for any pertinent or timely issues.

Here are three governance ideas:

  1. Don’t rely on a single individual to be responsible for content: make it a team effort with increasing levels of responsibility.
  2. Be creative without being offensive: consider your audience, wording and any cultural ramifications. Turn gaffes into opportunities to emphasize how on top of social media your company really is.
  3. Streamline access to customer service, legal and compliance resources so you can act quickly and appropriately.

Crisis on Line One. I’ll Transfer It Now….

Only half of all chief executives participate in crisis training, according to PR Week. Usually, it’s these same individuals who will find a microphone in their face in times of company crises. NPH, a nonprofit group with orphanages in Central and South America, found itself in the midst of crisis when the Haiti earthquake struck. Even with a crisis plan in place, NPH executives were hit hard emotionally as they had to announce the death of two staff members. During challenging times, being “crisis ready” is even more crucial as emotions and ongoing family sensitivities weigh heavily on the demands of the staff. Key for any executive? Be prepared and act quickly.

At Celtic, we host mock press conference training to prepare our executives for the tough questions. It helps them finesse ways to stay on point when the media hits hard.

Remember these three key factors for your leadership team:

  1. Let the severity of the crisis determine your tone and prepare your statements using honesty but don’t be too formal – human emotion makes you seem real
  2. Stay on point and practice possible questions with your PR team – don’t be afraid to say” I don’t know but will find out”
  3. Don’t answer questions that ask you to give your opinion on the situation – reiterate the facts and stay on point

Game Plan for a Content Marketing Strategy

While marketers are embracing the importance of regular content updates on their websites, not all are doing so with a defined strategy. According to the 2016 Content Marketing Report, 76% of marketers are creating more content than they were one year ago, but only 32% have a documented strategy in place.

It is essential that companies have a “game plan” in place built around purposeful content. The content should match marketing strategy and current events, maintaining relevancy for the user.

After developing multiple websites for Ardent Mills, the largest flour miller in the United States, Celtic developed content strategies with their team to ensure regular updates to the sites. Content calendars map out the plan for all future updates including home page callouts, internal page updates, blog/news updates and campaign-specific landing pages. Here are three things to consider when planning your content strategy:

  1. Keep the voice and key messages on your site unified with other outward marketing efforts and communications on behalf of the brand to deliver a consistent experience for your audience.
  2. Review detailed analytic reports to understand how users interact with the site and identify ways to help drive traffic to target actions.
  3. Forecast any planned promotions, anticipated company news or seasonal factors/key industry events that impact the business.

Keep Social Content Fresh

We’ve all seen it. The website with press releases over a year old or the social site with content posted last year. Your brand looks tired and your company behind if your content doesn’t remain fresh. A good rule of thumb is that your customers treat content management as they would a loaf of bread in their cupboard at home. If it’s been there too long, they won’t eat it.

When incorporating tactics such as blogs and website articles into a content marketing strategy, keep it fresh or toss it. New content on a website will boost search performance and give your audience incentive to come back. But if the most recent posts on social or your blog are still offering “Holiday Tips” in April, your visitors will quickly see that “news” has become little more than an afterthought. If you aren’t able to refresh this content regularly, you are better off removing the old content all together before it becomes stale. If you don’t have the resources to maintain new content in every social site, choose just a few – even if that means all you can maintain is your website – and keep it fresh.

Content strategy across platforms needs to be a budget line item in your marketing plan. B2B marketers are continuing to embrace the benefits of content marketing, with one recent study reporting that 86% are employing content marketing strategies in 2015. At Celtic, we have a social content team that works to deliver the “voice” for our clients to their social and web platforms. By properly creating content and publishing timelines, brands benefit with increased search performance and engagement with their customers. Those same tactics can backfire without sufficient commitment and execution.

Tag You’re Not It

In the age of digital and mobile content publishing it’s a fight to the front of the line to ensure that your company’s content is seen and stands out among the rest. So what can give your content the edge it needs to be in the forefront of web searches? Tags.

The answer is simple, but effectively executing the use of tags…not so much. Tags and hashtags have become all the rage in the last year, but there is a fine line between including strategic keywords in your media and frivolously tagging every semi-applicable word. Well-researched hashtags have the ability to increase the quantity and quality of visitors to your content, while merely tagging the same types of words for each blog post completely defeats the purpose of categorizing the information.

For example, on our own Celtic Chicago blog, we have chosen to do away with traditional tags completely and opted for a cleaner design and more purposeful navigation experience by featuring four distinct categories in the top navigation of our homepage. It is here where visitors will be able to accurately determine the broader topic that they wish to read about. Our writers are cognizant to include the “keywords” and “tags” within the titles of the posts or prominently throughout the body copy.

There is a time and place for tags and although an abundance of tags is not the most effective choice for a blog post, it is the most prominent method used to categorize information on Twitter. On Instagram hashtags allow your post’s content to build a community, while establishing unique details/trends specific to your account.

Before hash-tagging away, ask yourself what is the purpose of your post’s content and how does it relate to your company’s service. Also, think about your users and audience and how they respond to and interact with tags and categories of information. This will give you a good gauge of how many, if any, tags should be used on a specific piece of content.

In the age of digital media, less is sometimes more and for our blog, tags…you’re just not it.

Social: Is There a Policy on That?

The potential exposure of social media is not something any company can ignore. Just ask Domino’s Pizza or Chrysler. The rogue employee can change the future with one quick “send.” Yet 67% of companies say they do not have a social media policy.

Celtic creates social policies using three key components:

  1. Social Message Dissemination
  2. Social Policy for Employees
  3. Crisis Management Response

A policy must define acceptable posting and how to handle negative information. It should create a process for developing content consistent with the brand.

Business Thought: Branding the Brave

“Committed to quality service” isn’t a brand. It is what you have to do to stay in business. Lots of companies make a feeble attempt at branding. They use common language without putting any teeth into the promise.

Real branding is bold. Compare how you feel when you hear “great customer service” to “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Which one would you rather stand up and shout?

Branding takes guts. Courage. And a willingness to truly stand for something. It is a commitment that you make to your clients/customers, your employees and your vendor partners. Imagine what is possible if your company is willing to step out on that limb and begin to shout something of significance. Then make it your brand.