In yesterday’s article, I covered the “Don'ts” of managing your company’s social media presence. It is easy to see what not to do, by learning from others’ mistakes.

Today, I will discuss what companies should do if they wish to better engage with their audience over social media platforms.

Here are the five steps for better social media management with a case study featuring the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC):

1. Set up a social media presence

Everyone in the company should be briefed on the social media strategy so they are aware of the company’s stand, messaging and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

This ensures your target audience will receive the same information, whether they choose to visit different social media platforms, or talk to different staff members. Some SOPs you should put in place include:

* Preparing a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and standard answers;

* Defining a response protocol; and

* Defining a process for handling crisis.

An example of this can be seen by the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme’s social media campaign “Go Get It!”, launched last year on the NOC Facebook page.

The NOC programme is an initiative where National University of Singapore (NUS) students embark on a six to twelve-month internship experience in overseas locations, including China, India, the United States, Europe and Israel.

The NOC division wanted to market “Go Get It!” across campus and encourage NOC alumni to proactively share their experiences and interact with new registrants. It was also necessary to tie “Go Get It!” with the NOC programme’s regular offline marketing campaign.

2. Define objectives and target audiences

Understanding what you want to achieve and who you want to engage with will allow you to determine the messaging, type of activities and mechanics of the campaign, as well as how to monitor its success, after you have rolled it out.

In the “Go Get It!” campaign, the NOC division wanted to create a community that shared dreams and goals that linked to entrepreneurial education.

Specifically, they wanted the campaign to promote the NOC programme, increase the registration rate and directly address queries by potential registrants. They also wanted to engage with both NOC alumni, as well as NUS undergraduates, who were potential registrants.

3. Prepare a social media marketing plan

This involves five elements:

* Concept. This defines what the campaign is going to be and what type of experience your target audience should have.

“Go Get It!” aimed to encourage sharing of experiences and the referral of friends to the NOC’s Facebook page to learn more about the programme and connect with NOC Alumni.

* Platforms and applications. Select social media platforms that best serve the business objectives and are most frequented by your target audiences.

The NOC division launched “Go Get It!” on Facebook, as the majority of NUS students were already using this platform to communicate and engage with their friends.

* Mechanics. This details how you will build and engage the community.

To boost the viral adoption of “Go Get It!, fans who invited five or more friends to join the page stood a chance to win a grand prize at the end of the campaign, and those who invited the most friends to the page stood a chance to win weekly movie vouchers.

* Advertising. This is required to keep the campaign directed to the defined audience. Targeted Facebook ads and direct e-mail invitations help to get relevant people interested.

* Administration. Often, the most mundane tasks are critical in determining the successful rollout of the plan. This includes deciding who will administer the content, contest rules, garner participation and manage audience expectations, as well as how frequently this is to be done.

4. Develop and execute the social media campaign

Once you have prepared the plan, all you need to do is roll it out.

The NOC division decided to run the “Go Get It!” campaign for six weeks, coinciding with the beginning of the new semester, the registration period for potential NOC applicants, as well as the launch of banners that were posted around the campus.

5. Evaluate performance

Tracking the performance of a campaign allows you to see what worked well and what didn’t to improve the strategy for the next campaign.

“Go Get It!” garnered some 3,800 fans within the first month, with an excellent conversion rate of more than 11 per cent. By observing the conversations happening on the NOC Facebook page, the NOC division saw dynamic engagement and response by its fans, with much participation from NOC alumni members — one of the team’s key objectives set at the start.

These five steps, if followed correctly, can help you to set up and manage your social media strategy. Every company’s business objectives, target audiences and social media campaign requirements are different.

You need to adapt the strategy to what best engages with your audience. You should also note that social media marketing is still evolving, so adopting a flexible attitude works best.