The Anna Karenina Guide to Social Media Success

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

 Is that really true?

Although Tolstoy is talking about families, we are taking some literary license and applying it to companies.  So the question we ask is: Are companies that are successful with their Social Media efforts, more or less following the same path?  At the same time, are those companies screwing it up are doing so in unique and creative ways?

With limited exceptions, yes and yes.

Most in the Social Media space can cite at least a few of the true industry leaders like Dell, Comcast and KLM.   They just seem to have their act together and have created an end-to-end social media experience that excites and energizes their customers.

So what is it they are doing so right?

The not-so magic formula

Human nature is to look for the simplest and easiest way to accomplish our goals. We want whatever superpower will help us get to where we want to go as quickly as possible.  We spend an awful lot of time looking for it.

The same is true for businesses.  They spend time—and money—on the latest and greatest thing that will take them to the top of the industry heap.

That is not to say that tools and channels are not important.  They are.  However, the magic formula has nothing to do with tools.

It has everything to do with a holistic approach to your customer’s experience.

So what do the great companies do differently? 

Understand. Tools and techniques are great, but customer understanding is priceless.  Know what they want, when and how they want it and how they respond.  The more you can anticipate what your customers want—and give it to them—the better their overall experience.

Plan.   Getting from A to B is a whole lot easier with a road map.  Knowing your Objectives, Timing, Resources and Risks focuses efforts and minimizes uncertainties.  It also puts you in a position to consider all of your customer’s touchpoints.

Deploy.  Plan implementation is more than your using the next new tool or haphazard, uncoordinated efforts to brand yourself online.  Deployment is a stepwise, deliberate approach to making your plan happen.

Listen.  How can you have a conversation if you never listen?  Great users hear what their constituents are saying, and they do it humbly.  Asking for advice, feedback, thoughts and opinions not only flatters people, if done in a transparent and honest way it builds trust between you and your customers.

Adapt.  Every plan ever made has changed.  What’s important is how you handle the changes.  Be ready to modify and re-deploy.

How to get started

Whether or not you already have Social Media efforts underway, you can start very simply by taking a pause and asking yourself three questions:

  1. Do I know, really know, what my customers want from me?  Specifically, do I know how, when and where my customers want to be met in the Social Media ecosphere?
  2. Do I have a vision for my Social Media efforts?  Do I know where I want to be and by when? (Note that this is not an “end state” but rather an intermediate goal.  As the world continues to change, we must continue to adapt.)
  3. Do I understand the resources required to achieve this vision?

If you can answer these three questions, you are on your way to being one of the kickass Social Media companies all of the bloggers will be talking about.

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