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4 keys to getting the most from your social media efforts

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A few months ago, one of my friends in Louisiana asked me to come down to speak to his local Entrepreneur Organization chapter about digital and social media at FedEx.  This friend also happens to be one of the largest FedEx customers in Louisiana, which made the request more of a demand.  But as a native of Louisiana, it’s always attractive to head farther South during the cold winter months in Memphis, so last month I took him up on a trip to Baton Rouge.

What I didn’t realize when I accepted the invitation was that my presentation was a keynote for something much larger - Louisiana Entrepreneurship Day, organized by the Louisiana Entrepreneur’s Organization and the Stephenson Institute for Entrepreneurship at Louisiana State University.  The event was heavily promoted by a local business publication, while the rooftop ballroom of a legendary Baton Rouge hotel overlooking the Mississippi River was booked for my presentation.

Now, I’ve learned over the years that there are a couple of key elements to a successful presentation to a group of strangers 1) credibility and 2) relevance.  But what did some guy from a FORTUNE 100 company in Memphis have to do with the Louisiana EO, or any similar group for that matter?  Well, it turns out, a lot.  

Despite our current size, FedEx always has been - and always will remain - an entrepreneurial organization.  Just like a local EO member, we focus on the customer and solutions to meet their needs.  And just like small businesses and entrepreneurs, we must stay ahead of large global trends – the foundation of any successful entrepreneurial strategy.  And certainly the same is true in the digital and social media space.  Shifts in how the public consumes and shares information will fundamentally change buying habits.   In my team’s role, it’s necessary to stay ahead of these trends and meet our customers where they spend their time online – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or YouTube – and relevant to their needs – customer service, transportation services or even information about our community involvement. 

There are so many insights I took away from two days of conversations with these passionate business owners and students, but let me share with you some of the thoughts I shared with them about executing in digital and social media:

· Listen – Chances are, your customers are talking about your industry or even you.  Don’t you want to know what they are saying?  There are many free tools that allow you to search keywords in Twitter alone.  Use them.

· Plan – Decide what you want to accomplish and start small.  If you are intimidated but interested in activation using social media, choose a single business objective and single channel.  As we say, you don’t need to boil the ocean.  And view holistically.  Most successful businesses focus on ROI, and rightfully so.  But don’t let the lack of direct revenue measurement in social channels prevent you from testing the waters.  You may want to start with driving sales, but you may simply want to grow awareness or build a community with existing customers.  This is difficult to measure in short-term ROI, but can be well-worth the indirect and long-term benefits of customer loyalty, brand awareness, etc.

· Measure – be very clear about your expectations.  It seems that a lot of people jump in, may not find immediate “success” and leave.  But perhaps the plan, in this case, wasn’t well thought out.  If you want to build a community of customers on Facebook, for example, start with a goal of connecting with 100 customers in a certain time period.  Measure the level of dialogue.   But don’t expect orders to start jumping in your lap.  You can always expand down the road.

· Improve – It’s OK to make mistakes.  We’ve made mistakes along the way.  We’ve also learned from them and dramatically improved.  And we’re constantly seeking ways to get better.   You can also look to other companies for inspiration.  I really enjoy seeing the success of other large companies, but I’m even more inspired by small companies with limited budgets achieving tremendous success.  We learn from them and you should too.

Links:
Stephenson Institute for Entrepreneurship at LSU: http://www.bus.lsu.edu/ei/
EO: http://www.eonetwork.org

FedEx on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter:
www.facebook.com/fedex
www.youtube.com/fedex
www.twitter.com/fedex
www.twitter.com/fedexnews
www.twitter.com/fedexdelivers

Comments (3) 

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Great post!

This is informative and nicely written, Ryan.

Great presentation! Lots of take home value. Thanks for a job well done.

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