How to lead a social media engagement strategy — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evan Perkins of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

11:15 —'s Lauren Clevenger introduces Cox Media Group's Ryan Dickerson.

11:16 — Ryan: What does social media engagement even mean? Engagement is different for every brand, and defining it for your brand is key, so ask these question: What's your brand's voice? Why are you engaging with people? What's unique about your brand? Why would I want a relationship with you?

11:18 — Ryan: The good news is that you've got all this stuff! You've always have reasons to be part of the conversation, and it's our job to take that uniqueness and bring it into the space.

11:19 — Ryan: Engagement does have it's challenges: It's hard not to scale; it costs money; platform proliferation requires creative and focus; the noise is deafening.

11:20 — Ryan: There are upsides, too! This is why we have jobs. We can promote, create awareness, imrpvoce SEO, address haters, go from convo to conversion.

11:21 — Ryan: There are rules of engagement. Rule #1: Listen first; Rule #2: Be present — no posting and running. Be and stay in the conversation.

11:22 — Rule #3: Have a purpose — conversations should be intentional; Rule #4: Be authentic and deliver on your brand promise; Rule #5: Stay unique and don't boilerplate people!

11:23 — Rule #6: Talk a walk — seriously, you're not made to sit in front of people for 12 hours a day. Take breaks. Walk. Escape. What you do is really hard and you need to create some space!

11:24 — Ryan: Consumers think that about 8% of companies deliver “superior customer service” while brands believe that 80% of them are superior.

11:25 — Regarding customer care, most of the convo is happening on Twitter, but brands are responding on Facebook.

11:26 — Ryan: Be present. A presence isn't the same as being present. If you're going to be there, be there!

11:27 — Ryan shares case studies from Xbox, Walmart, Delta, Nike, and others who are rocking engagement.

11:28  — Ryan: Be human. Brands are faceless and easy to dislike, but genuine people are not. Don't all for the Klout game. Everyone deserves excellent customer service. Also remember to listen and research before you speak. Be personal and don't boilerplate people. And lastly, empathize.

11:29 — Ryan: You probably can't scale. Be realistic with your leadership and your team. Set expectations upfront both internally and with your external audience (if you can't be there 24×7, that's okay, but let your community know).

11:31 — Ryan: Don't run in the benchmarking rat race — it's not a smart idea to run after all the stuff that other people are doing. Their campaigns and efforts won't necessarily translate for your brand and can take up a lot of resources for very little output.

11:33 — Ryan: You need a social media crisis management plan. Something bad will happen, and you'll probably be the first to see it. Crises management rarely falls on one person, or one department. How do we organize this? Work within your business to get stakeholders (work with legal, customer service, operations, marketing, PR, etc.). Then, identity decision makers. Lastly, have a process stat the business commits to.

11:35 — Ryan: Nearly 25% of those who ave ever posted content admit to having maliciously argued over an opinion with a stranger. People will always be people! Don't feed the trolls but instead ask, “Do we have a real issue or is this hype? Where is this comment and who will see it? What can we gain from responding? What will happen if we don't do anything?”

11:35 — Ryan shares some key takeaways:

  • Define your engagement strategy
  • Listen
  • Be preset
  • Be human
  • Be honest with your scaling ability
  • Have a crisis plan
  • Don't feed the trolls!
  • Plus, remember to take your walks.

Q & A

Q: I have management pushing for very overt sales tactics on social. How do I balance that with not being obnoxious on our channels but also engaging and making this person happy?

A: Ryan: It's tough for sure. lululemon is a great example of this — about 20% of their posts are sales related and always in the right context. You cannot make a whole social platform a sales platform. If you do, you need to be ready for shipping issues, product problems, customer service, pricing differences, etc. Put the reality back in front of your executives.

Q: How strictly do you follow your time restrictions? Esp. with emergencies?

A: Ryan: You should first define “crisis” for you. Knowing what that is will help you make the decisions here. Then you need an escalation path to route it properly.

Q: Can you talk about what an SLA for response time should be? Should there be a standard or is this particular for each brand?

A: Ryan: We have SLAs around all of our tech companies. We don't let the market or competitors drive our SLAs; instead, we let what we're capable of determine our SLAs. We can't just say, “One hour response time, go!” Instead, we've got to think of it realistically per channel and product, etc., and be honest with ourselves. From there we set expectations for the business.

Q: Can you share about what your reporting looks like? What do you report? How do you choose? Etc?

A: Ryan: Try not to be the snowflake — executives don't want a report on their desk, esp. one that doesn't tie directly to a bottom lie or business goal. Tie your reporting to business reporting. All of your reporting is part of the larger enterprise, so try to incorporate your data and reporting into already-existing reports.