I recently hit my 10-year anniversary here at MGH, which I believe equates to 30 in “social media years.” To celebrate the milestone, I was asked to do more work (kidding). My task was to reflect on my experiences within the ever-evolving industry.
So, without further ado, I present to you one lesson learned for every year spent on MGH’s social media team:
- Everything but the endgame has changed
Back when I started, the department was called “Word of Mouth Marketing.” There was no Facebook Business, and we spent our time posting conversation starters to both MySpace (RIP) and online forums. At that time, we had no solid results to analyze and my computer caught a new virus every other week.
Thankfully for our results-driven team and my IT savior Paul, this is no longer the case. We have a wealth of data at our fingertips, allowing us to reach our customers more strategically than ever and to measure the effectiveness of our work. That said, we’re still trying to achieve the same goals as we were 10 years ago: Engage customers in a two-way dialogue, get them talking about our clients and, ultimately, sell products and services along the way.
- In fact, the only other constant is change
Think you’ve got a jump start on the next few months of social media editorial content? Think again! Facebook recently made changes penalizing any “engagement baiting posts” and Instagram just updated their image requirements for Stories. Something is changing in the social space just about every day. If you’re adaptable, it can be exciting. If not, you can easily get left behind.
- Yes, you really can win those sweepstakes!
I used to be guilty of thinking no one actually wins online sweepstakes. Now, after administering over 100 of them on behalf of clients, I know this much to be true: There are many laws and restrictions in place to ensure promoted sweepstakes are legit, winners really are picked at random, and the mail-in entries are actually kept and included in the drawings. (Bonus lesson: It’s an amazing way to collect customer and prospect info.) So go forth and enter-to-win!
- The opposite of love is indifference
When we first started onboarding clients to Facebook, the biggest concern was, “What if people post bad things about us on OUR OWN PAGE?” Although most have moved past the fear of negative comments, I’m not sure all are truly embracing their power. If someone is passionate enough to seek you out and post about his/her issue(s), nine out of ten times, that person WANTS you to change their mind. A well-crafted response can win you a repeat customer from a disappointing experience. It’s the people who don’t care enough to reach out who should scare you.
- Social Media never sleeps
Negative comments and major issues can arise at any time, so you need to be constantly monitoring. Luckily, our social media department has grown from a team of three to a team of 10, meaning each of our nighttime and weekend monitoring shifts are scheduled fewer and more far between these days.
- It is possible to recover from a social media crisis
It’s not easy, but with a commitment to actually listening to customers, a well-crafted strategy and patience it is very possible. One of my most memorable moments on the job was the feeling of relief – after 12 hours of responding, listening and responding again – when the mob mentality during my first crisis clearly started to shift in our client’s favor, as a direct result of our efforts. These situations are when a close relationship between your social media and public relations departments can come in handy.
- Access to a Facebook representative is amazing
Our team is fortunate enough to have access to a Facebook Agency Partner, who not only gives us a heads up about upcoming changes, but will answer questions, provide insights and recommendations, and will even grant us access to beta programs and exclusive “partner-only” audiences for ad targeting purposes. In this world of constant Facebook updates, she’s about as close as you can come to finding an angel without wings.
- Rock stars belong on stage
I’ve come across a ton of self-proclaimed Social Media “Ninjas” and “Rock Stars” and, in my experience, these people tend to spend most of their time shouting about their expertise and “guaranteed” success strategy through their virtual megaphones. The problem is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for social media marketing. Your strategy should be tailored based on your specific goals and audiences. My best advice to you is to find a social media marketer who spends his/her time in the daily grind of actually executing the work. That person is going to have the best pulse on the ever-changing social landscape and its implications on your objectives.
- It takes a specific type of person to be successful in the social space
Writing creative post copy, analyzing results, developing reports, brainstorming campaign themes and partaking in client status calls is all part of one day’s work. To be successful, you need to be analytical, creative and organized all at once. Your social media team should be comprised of people who equally use both side of their brains – or at least contain a well rounded balance of the two types of thinkers.
- The best people to work with (and have working for you) are those who never say, “That’s not my job.”
Once I drove two hours to put flyers on cars at an event, on behalf of a client. Who was flyering cars right beside me? My boss, the head of the social media department – the first of its kind in the Baltimore area. What did flyering cars have to do with social media? Not much. But it was for a social client who had a limited budget and we deeply cared about their success (and they were one of few rare clients who could have actually benefited from car flyering).
I’ve experienced countless examples of that scrappy, do-what-it-takes mentality during my time at MGH, and everyone wins when it’s embraced. That includes our clients, who benefit from knowing we’ll do everything in our power to reach their goals, as well as the team, knowing we’re all in it together. As for me, I’ve personally benefited by learning to think outside of my social media bubble, becoming a more holistic and strategic marketer. That scrappy attitude is also why I’m most looking forward to Year 11, and beyond, in this space. That’s why I leave you with one more lesson learned.
- Social Media is not the end-all-be-all marketing solution
After all of this time, I’m still very passionate about the potential and power that social media marketing can unleash within the marketing mix. However, I also know it’s just one piece of the overall puzzle. The most successful marketing campaigns will never begin by asking, “What can we do on this shiny new social media network?” but instead, “What is the best message to put in front of our target audience and what is the best way to deliver this message?”