C-Suite executives in nearly all industries today are expected to run on increasingly leaner budgets by CEOs trying to adapt to an uncertain economy.
Often, one of the first things cut is the marketing budget, and while I generally don’t think that’s a good idea, sometimes it’s a situation you’re forced into. When that happens, it’s critical to get the most out of your remaining budget, and one of the ways you can do that is by leveraging your team to amplify your efforts on social media.
The following details how to turn your existing team into a marketing powerhouse so you can get more out of every dollar you spend on marketing.
Define your team
The word “team” means different things to different people. The way I would define it in this context—and the way you should as well—is this: Your team is your employees, contractors, vendors and even your customers. Basically, anyone who has a vested interest in your success.
It’s also important to point out that your expectations will vary from group to group. For example, you can expect your employees to play a much larger role in this than your vendors or customers.
Make sure your team understands the mission
Most people aren’t great at communicating effectively, which leads to frustration and inefficiency. That’s why it’s critical we make sure our team understands exactly what we want from their efforts, and equally important, why that benefits them.
When I served in the Marine Corps, we had a concept called Commander’s Intent, which was basically the end goal of the mission. This ensured that if the plan went to hell, as plans often do in that environment, the Marines involved in the mission could still take action individually to achieve the desired outcome, even if we all got separated and lost communications.
Fortunately, no one is trying to kill you, but the concept is still just as valid because it effectively turns your team into a semi-autonomous marketing force. If they know what you need to accomplish, they can adapt to changing conditions to achieve that without you having to give them instructions at every step of the way.
In this case, the mission is simple—we want our team to engage with our social media content in the form of liking, commenting and sharing our posts. But it’s critical that they understand why.
We want them to engage because it provides social proof and leverages the algorithms that determine how many people see your content. In other words—if they engage properly, more people will see your content and your brand will become more authoritative and trustworthy.
This means more customers and revenue for your company, which helps you to protect jobs for your employees and revenue for your contractors and vendors. It also helps to ensure your company stays around to continue serving your customers.
So there are incentives for everyone involved.
Engage your team to leverage social algorithms
This is where the heavy lifting begins, but your team needs to first understand what it means to engage with your content properly. This avoids wasted time and energy and creates a more significant impact.
Liking posts is simple—just click the button. Commenting on and sharing posts requires a little more nuance, though. Comments should be substantive—this means skip the shallow “Great post!” type of comments. Instead, comments should add value to the post.
For example, if your company posted something about a new law or regulation, individuals on your team might comment with:
• their thoughts on how that will impact the industry;
• how to prepare/adapt to the change; or
• a specific question about that topic.
A combination of all of the above should be used, and your company should take the time to respond to each comment in an equally substantive manner. It’s also important to try to get as many comments as possible as soon as the post is published because this plays a role in how many people the social media algorithms show the post to.
The same applies to sharing content. Rather than just clicking the share button and calling it a day, make sure your team understands that they need to add their thoughts about why the content is important.
You’ll need to notify your team when a new post goes live rather than just hoping they happen to stumble across it in their feed, though.
Email or text messages are effective channels for this, but you’ll want to segment your lists based on the relationships, because as I mentioned earlier, expectations will vary based on each person’s role. While you could certainly email your employees each time you want them to engage on a social media post, that would be a terrible idea with your customers, so I recommend breaking your lists down into three groups.
You can expect the most from your employees, but you have to realize you’re probably not going to get 100% participation. The most effective approach will be to publish your post on each social network, and then immediately afterwards, send an email to your employees with a link to the post on each platform so they can engage.
• Contractors & vendors
You can expect some participation from this group, but it will likely be far less than your employees. You might be inclined to incentivize them by offering some type of prize, like giving away a gift card to one or more of the people who comment on or share your content each week. Just be careful to avoid the appearance of favoritism when awarding these prizes.
Unless you have a cult-like following, you should expect the least participation from this group, but that’s better than nothing. As with contractors and vendors, you should definitely incentivize this group. Gift cards are one option, but since these people have a need for what you offer, you may be able to save some money by giving them free products or services.
Track KPIs that drive the desired outcome
Social media marketers are often sucked into what I call vanity metrics. This is data like follower count or likes on a post. I’m not saying that this data is worthless, but it only means something in context.
Some examples of the data you need to be looking at are things like:
• Brand awareness
• Email subscribers
But I also want to point out that these are trailing indicators, which means that you won’t be able to measure them right away because it will take consistent effort—often measured in weeks or months, before you start to see measurable results here.
It’s also important to point out that it won’t always be a clear 1:1 tracking. What I mean by that is you won’t always be able to say with certainty where new customers came from.
Think about it like this—maybe a new customer purchased as the result of a particular post and you can directly track that, but was it the last post or was it the result of the last three months of consistent posting activity? Or maybe they called you, but don’t really remember the last year of social media posts that built brand awareness and trust leading up to that call.
The reality is that while we have more precise tracking available today than we ever have before, it’s still not perfect and never will be. While we should track available data as accurately as possible, the most important thing to look at is our business health from a holistic, or all-encompassing perspective.
This is how we drive the kind of activity that delivers improvements to our bottom line rather than just keeping our team busy.