Andrew Caravella, VP of Marketing at Sprout Social, gives some insights on what brands need to be doing to optimize their social strategies. Tune into our joint webinar March 12 for more great tips and best practices for crafting a more prosperous social presence.

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What’s the biggest challenge brands have in developing a unique social presence?

AC: A very common challenge businesses face when developing their social presence is maintaining a sense of individuality. Social is a very see-and-be-seen culture, so the impulse to emulate rather than originate is very real. Companies often turn to social media and look at other organizations who have found success and, for whatever reason, they try to emulate that rather than staying in their lane and being true to who they are as a brand.

dove-sprout-socialStart by looking inwards to see what makes your company interesting, relevant, and significant, then find ways to capture that essence through your social presence and within your community. Take Dove, for example; they’ve always been a company that promotes beauty and self-worth, and they’ve found ways to ingrain that into their social media presence. Social is a place to extend your brand values and extol your virtues, not to create an entirely different experience from other communication channels.

What’s the biggest misconception about social media marketing? Should it be owned by PR, content, or community?

AC: The biggest misconception about social media marketing is that it should be “owned” by any one particular department or team. If you think about social as a communication channel and the versatility that it offers, it’s easy to see that there is room for almost any individual or team at a company to take advantage of it. Yes, perhaps one team may manage certain aspects or logistical implementation, but to proceed with the mindset that social is singularly owned can be detrimental to long-term success. 

Naturally, many marketing and communications teams have perhaps originated social presences, but the components of a well rounded social community extend well beyond:

  • Public relations uses social to disseminate company information and stay on message.
  • Customer support uses social to address issues and resolve complaints.
  • Content teams use social to make sure they effectively tell the brand story.
  • Business development teams monitor social sites to find potential customers.
  • Product innovation teams use social to gather original and unfiltered feedback.
  • Talent teams use social to reach potential candidates and publish job openings.

The list goes on and on. It’s imperative that all stakeholders have a seat at the table and that organizations properly plan out social media marketing strategy—especially so it can be used as a collaborative channel that benefits the entire company.

How important is mobile to every brand’s social media strategy?

AC: Mobile is to social what oxygen is to life. Social is literally nothing without mobile, and the numbers speak for themselves:

Sproutsocial1Brands must fully understand that individual social behavior is so intrinsically tied to mobility. Customers and community members can—and will—reach out to a brand from any place, any device, and at any time with a variety of requests. Subsequently, organizations need to adequately plan, prepare, and determine necessary resources—human, technological and financial—to support social engagement and constant communications, day in and day out. 

How has social media become a customer service tool?

AC: Social is often a front-line communication channel for disgruntled customers, product inquiries, community conversation, and more. In the same way that the phone and email act as customer service channels, social and even live chat give customers a direct channel to reach out to brands. The biggest difference, however, is that with social the conversation is completely public, which makes it one of the most critical customer service tools of all. If a brand isn’t there to quickly respond to messages, appropriately engage with dissatisfied customers, or take immediate action, they risk entire networks of fans and followers developing perceptions about brand that can linger long after the specific issue is resolved. 

What’s one way brands can leverage their organic social media tactics for their digital campaigns?

AC: Examining organic social data is an excellent way to discover what types of content and messages resonate with audiences. Since it’s free to post to your social networks, and because social sites like Twitter allow for frequent posting, you can easily test different types of content and gauge results in real-time. The reality is, diversified messaging, the use of multimedia, and other organic social activities makes for a more well-rounded social experience. So use that data to inform future content strategies and distribution mechanisms.

 Want to learn more? Join AdRoll and Sprout Social for our upcoming webinar, “5 Best Practices for Integrating Paid and Organic Social Media”. Register here.