Cleanup on Aisle 5: Retail Brands, Tidy Up Your Social Media

There’s that moment in nearly every modern horror movie: A character wakes up from an uneasy sleep, goes into the bathroom for that always helpful splash of cold water to the face, only to open their eyes and see a hideous monster reflected in the mirror right  behind them. Usually, that’s when they wake up and realize it was all a bad dream.

That metaphor seems particularly apt when talking about many retail brands’ social media management, because for many CMOs and brand managers that’s the monster in the mirror staring back at them and giving them many a sleepless night.

Think that’s hyperbole? We recently polled 60 top global brand managers and asked what keeps them up at night about their social media strategy. The top three concerns were: A lack of resources vs. the size of the challenge; containing and engaging with consumer content; and having too many channels to manage.

It’s a tough world to navigate, even for the biggest brands. With many possessing a disorganized social media strategy at a time when online communication has never been more paramount, it’s crucial for retail brands to synchronize and manage their global social media presence and lines of communication.

But there is some good news: There is a positive way forward if you put the right structure and support in place. It might feel like a wall to climb but there are ways you can simplify even the most complex social media environment.

Create Calm from Chaos

First, before you do anything, take a breath, step back and look at the landscape. Are you where you want to be with your brand’s social media? Ask yourself: What are my business objectives and how are they linked to my social media strategy? What are the barriers you have in achieving your goals?

From there, create a solid plan for every bit of your social media including content, social customer service, moderation, brand voice, etc. The key question you need to always be asking yourself: What do I want to happen, and more importantly what do our customers want to happen?

Create a Winning Structure

Now that you’re armed with a strategy that takes into consideration your creative direction, tone of voice, brand guidelines and standards for engagement and reporting, take time to delegate the implementation of the strategy, localization, engagement, quality assurance and data analysis and insights.

Governance guidelines (particularly important if you are marketing to young people, or working within regulated industries such as alcohol or financial services). These should include practical examples and illustrations of what is, and what isn’t acceptable.

Let Your People Do Their Thing

All great social media programs are run by amazing people, supported by the best tools. Social listening tools will serve you data on what people are saying about you online. But the data only goes so far. To make it actionable, you need deep insight created

by human intelligence. That means having the best people, in all the right locations, who really understand the brand’s values and voice.

If social media is to work, the content needs to be compelling and creative, and that means empowering your team to shake it up regularly and balance different types of content. You need to stay on top of all the latest thinking on content types preferred by each channel, and by each audience and/or demographic group. Paid media can be helpful to ensure your content is reaching the right audiences, particularly if you’re geo-marketing or targeting hyper-local audiences.

Finally, don’t wait till the monthly review meeting to measure what’s going well. All great social media strategies need to be tweaked constantly based on live data and insights.

Social media may seem like something scary lurking in the mirror behind you, keeping you up at night, but it doesn’t have to be. Rethinking your strategy and goals and empowering your team to make decisions within them will no doubt go a long way toward turning your horror show social media strategy into a superhero one.

Ashley Cooksley is Managing Director, North America/Chief Client Officer for The Social Element

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