Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been looking at the social media strategies of different organisations. It has been very interesting to see how in-house social media teams work.
Last week I went on a little field trip to the headquarters of Virgin Trains, and this week we had a guest speaker, Guy Evans, the Social Media and Communications Officer for Birmingham Council.
A Quick Comparison
The most interesting things to observe were the similarities between two completely different organisations. Both Virgin Trains and Birmingham Council want to make sure they have a ‘human voice’ on social media. They answer enquiries personally and keep scheduling posts to a minimum.
Also, I was surprised to see (more with Virgin Trains) that they were not completely up to date and on all social media platforms. Unlike when people just sign up to a new social media platform to try it out, they have to justify using them.
Then again, when I was originally taught about putting myself on social media, when I was studying journalism, I was told to keep my accounts up to date, or to not have them at all. I guess it’s better to completely avoid a platform than use it poorly – especially when you are a big organisation.
Instagram stands out as the platform that people don’t know what to do with. It can be seen more as a ‘vanity account’ that doesn’t add anything to the business. When you have a limited resources and funds I can see why it can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Social Media on a Budget
Companies have turned to social media as a cheaper, easier way to interact with their customers. Although automation tools and paid advertising can be used when needed, it is becoming clear that knowledge of how to use social media effectively is a lot more valuable to build a foundation.
From listening to Guy Evans, it is clear that even with a tiny team (he works alone on the main social media accounts) and a minimal budget you can be successful on social media.
Fine Tuning Your Social Media Strategy
There were some significant differences between how Birmingham Council and Virgin Trains work on social media. I think it’s important for companies to establish these fine details before they get started.
For example, if a customer gets too offensive or rude Virgin Trains are happy to block them. They are a business who don’t tolerate that behaviour towards their staff. Whereas, Birmingham Council think it is important to see what everyone is saying.
If you are working alone, it’s easier to choose your brand identity, do’s and don’ts, and your voice. But working in a team can mean that your social media voice can vary. Social media fans want consistency, without feeling like they are talking to a robot. it’s a fine balance.
Virgin Trains do this very well, with each social media user using their initials at the end of their Twitter posts so followers know who’s online. Because of the ‘Virgin brand identity‘, they can get away with this, along with their chatty, casual attitude online.
On that Note…
Working on social media is a steep learning curve. It can take some experimentation to learn what works for you, and perseverance will work better than just throwing money at it.
But, most importantly, you must have a clear idea of what you want from your social media pages.