Many companies already have a mature social media strategy but for some still dipping their toes in the water, the benefits aren’t always clear.

Social isn’t necessarily a sales-driving channel – although it can be.

However there are plenty of other benefits that can be gained, so how can you make the most of social channels without having a huge budget to invest?

1. Which social channel is right for your brand strategy?

A social media presence should be purposeful, not just a presence for the sake of it.

Find out more about your customers – do they use social media, if so, which platforms do they use and how? Are they receptive to brands in that space?

Your business objectives should determine your communication strategy, and you need to ensure that social media forms an appropriate part of your channel mix.

Think about why your customers might want to follow you in social channels. Unless you provide something of value it’ll be hard to gain followers organically.

Twitter is more of a newsfeed, suitable for short, informative snippets of information (or linking to further info on your site), Facebook is great for richer content and generating a conversation.

If your objective is educating – then visual channels such as You Tube or Instagram could be more engaging to customers.

2. Don’t just chase the numbers

There’s more to social media than followers. Think about what you’d like to do with your followers once you have them. Perhaps you could ask them for product feedback (or even test new products with them), or build a base of loyal brand ambassadors by providing exclusive content to them.

Engagement with a brand is a better measure than followers – it means you’re creating a two-way conversation and providing content that customers want to engage with.

3. Listen carefully

Social media is a great place to find out what people really think about your products or services. You don’t even have to have a social account to do this.

Sentiment analysis tools can help you filter brand mentions into positive and negative, and some will even flag any serious ones that you’d probably want to respond to.

You can learn a lot from people’s comments about your services, so do take the time to gain some insights from your customers.

If you do adapt part of your services based on this feedback, that’s a great thing to tell your customers about in social channels – ‘we listened, we fixed the problem.’

4. Be present

It’s not enough just to ‘post and go’ with social media. Once you’ve set up a social media presence you must be prepared to listen to what customers are saying to you, especially when they’re complaining.

Have a response plan, or team, who have clear guidelines on how to respond. Customer care teams at RSA have a huge social response team now, who can even service our customers through these channels!

5. Have a content plan

Once you’re using social media you’ll know what your objective is for the channels you’re in and you can plan your content accordingly. Think laterally. Just because you’re selling insurance it doesn’t mean your posts have to be about insurance. In a content planning session you can think more broadly about the topics around your particular product – for example for home insurance why not think about property or interiors?

Look at the peaks and troughs you have in sales and plan your content to help drive the peaks.

You can also learn a lot from free tools such as Google Trends to see what people search for that’s related to your product.

Be clear about who will produce the content, how often you’ll post, and what your sign-off process is.

6. Know your limits

You’ll need some clear guidelines for your social channels. Know what your brand does and doesn’t have the authority to talk about or comment on.

Also consider the subject matter experts you have around the business and whether or not you can broaden your group of editors or contributors. We’ve previously run live Q&A sessions on Facebook with some of our vets, for example.

7. Be prepared

When large-scale incidents happen such as storms or floods, social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook give you the ability to share crucial local information, such as where to find emergency response teams in the area.

Not only that, but if you have advance warning of the event you can send out advice to help people prepare for the weather and help to prevent claims.

To do this you need to have your content pre-planned and ready for such events. Have an event or incident plan in place well in advance and you’ll avoid frantic, last-minute content production.

8. Don’t hop onto hashtags

Unless it’s relevant to your brand or service (see the point above about weather events), it’s generally not a good idea to try to use a hashtag just because it’s trending.

Think of hashtags as ‘search’ tags which can be useful if you want to be found in relation to something. If you’re just using it because it’s topical, think about whether it’s actually appropriate for your brand first – you don’t want to incite cynicism!

9. Make use of insights

Some social channels such as You Tube and Facebook offer free analytics which can be really useful. Make the most of these to learn which sites your customers are coming from, how frequently they’re coming, and even the demographic make-up of your social audience.

If you have analytics on your own site you can track which customers are coming through from your social channels. Data attribution modelling is the ideal way to track your customers through their online journey to your site, but this relies on specialist analytics, and probably a hefty budget!

10. Be human

People spend time in social channels as a momentary distraction. They’re used to small snippets of information – easy to skim read and digest.

Keep your language simple, conversational and easy to read, and if possible include an image. We process an image thousands of times faster than words, and it helps to keep your copy shorter too!

When responding to customers in social spaces, don’t use a robotic ‘copy and paste’ response. Customers can see by looking up and down your social feed that you’ve done this and it won’t make them feel valued!

RSA VIEW

Mike Russell, Partnerships Manager

RSA has established a well-developed B2C social media strategy and this is evidenced across our direct brand, More>Than where social media is an important part of our customer engagement.

However, as is typical with many businesses, there has been little or no appetite to build a clear B2B social media strategy. Until now!

So what has driven this change?

As we and our partners employ more “Millennials” into our business the reality is that the way we all communicate is changing and being driven by social media.

So is it just a case of “If you can’t beat them, join them?”

Partly, but there is also a clear and positive benefit from engaging more widely with all our partners, via whichever communication method they prefer.

To do so, particularly in a regulated environment, requires a clear strategy which the whole business can follow and use to ensure a consistent approach is followed and people are confident of using social media.

Intermediated business is leading the way with project teams working across partnership management, marketing, senior management etc. to draw together a cohesive strategy.

Now is the time for change and you will see more communication via Oracle (our internal Social Media channel) and in due course a wider presence across some of the other external channels too.

We will also be engaging with our partners to enhance and improve our wider engagement.

As a market leader, social media gives us the opportunity to talk to a wider audience – Please follow us, comment and engage it’s the way we all become better at what we do.