Dr. Dell’s test for your social media health

Do you respond via customers’ preferred channel? Do you listen beyond just mentions? Do staffers use your social media management system to share? Tips from the computing giant.

Dell social media lessons

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.

At Dell they have a saying: “Customer experience has become customer expectation.”

Customers aren’t going to follow your company’s social media accounts just because they have warm feelings about your brand. They have high expectations, says Dell Senior Director of Social Business Thom Lytle.

In a Ragan Training video, “Social Media Strategy: Test your social health and improve your competitive edge in 2019,” Lytle explains how organizations can meet those expectations.

“They’re not going to follow your accounts unless they think those social media accounts add value,” he says.

Here are a few tips:

1. Content beats marketing.

It’s the classic question of “What’s in it for me?” Even well-known brands shouldn’t just talk about their products to their followers.

“They don’t want to see a bunch of marketing on their timeline. … They want to make sure it’s relevant to them,” Lytle says.

2. Mobile is a must.

Most social media content is now viewed on smartphones. All of your content should work smoothly on mobile.

“Folks are consuming social media primarily on mobile nowadays, so your content needs to be form-fitted for that medium,” Lytle says.

3. Respond.

If you’re going to mention your brand, you’d better be reacting when people reply, Lytle urges.

“If I @-mention you,” he says, “you must respond quickly.”

4. Listen to more than just mentions.

Monitor the conversation even if social media users aren’t talking to you.

5. Reply in the customer’s preferred channel.

“If I’m talking to you on social media, just don’t call me,” Lytle says. “Don’t ask for my number. Don’t ask for my email. And make sure that you’re delivering a digital experience for those exchanges that’s consistent with my [online] behavior.”

6. Stop marketing to customers who need your help.

Nobody wants to reach out for help and get a sales pitch.

“If I’m working with support, stop selling to me,” Lytle says.

7. Define your variables.

Lytle details how to create an index to put data points into a consistent scale that you can interpret meaningfully. Dell considers a number of variables, including the following:

  • Publishing cadence. This means the average number of published posts per week. Are your various brand accounts publishing too little, or maybe too much?
  • Total primary engagement from organic reach, such as “likes” and retweets.
  • Account growth. At the end of each quarter, Dell reckons the net total of followers divided by followers at the start of the quarter. “We do care how much an account grows from one quarter to the next,” Lytle says.
  • Reach penetration. This is the average or median reach divided by total followers.
  • Responsiveness, or the percent of customer comments you responded to.
  • Tracked revenue or leads. Not every account is intended to sell, Lytle says, but if that’s what you’re doing, make sure they are clicking through to buy. Not every account is focused on revenue, but those that do should be tracking it.
  • Make sure all your accounts are using the approved logo, as well as a background that aligns with brand standards. “This made our brand team very happy,” Lytle says.
  • Social media management system. Large companies often have a system through which people should publish social media content, such as Sprinkler, Spredfast and Hootsuite, among others. You want to figure out the percent of published messages through the social media system.

Why? Sometimes it’s easier for your social media staffers simply to open their smartphones and share directly to Twitter or Facebook, rather than going through the system.

Though a direct post can be fine on occasion, it’s important to track adoption of the management system and make sure the team is following the right protocol for distributing content. These tools give you better governance, and they append the correct tracking for the URLs you’re sharing.

Asked by a listener how to respond to negative comments, Lytle says Dell has a care and support team responding around the clock, and PR also can play a role.

“Where it gets tricky is when you start to see comments, whether it be about executives or your overall business,” he says. “That’s where we pull in comms for guidance.”

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