Without Social Media, You’ll Be Playing Catch-Up, Says Tim Haran

Tim Haran

It is no secret that Twitter has emerged as an indispensable social media network and as a key component of any comprehensive business strategy. Those who understand and harness the power of Twitter can get ahead in today's digital business climate.

At PR News’ Social Media Measurement Conference in New York on Oct. 2, Tim Haran, senior manager of social media, USANA Health Sciences, Inc., will help show attendees how to define Twitter objectives, establish key performance indicators, determine the value of followers and retweets and measure conversations and engagement. In the following, Q&A, Haran discusses his views on the critical importance social media efforts play in overall business strategies and goals.

PR News: How is the use of social media affecting how organizations draw up their business objectives?

Tim Haran: Social media is becoming integral to how we communicate with our worldwide team of independent distributors and customers—it’s the way a large segment of the population prefers to communicate today. When we’re determining content direction or larger corporate initiatives, we’re quick to help identify social media components to convey our messages to key groups. If organizations aren’t thinking about social media when determining overall business objectives, they’ll no doubt be left playing catch-up to those that are.

PR News: How does something as simple as how the way a tweet is written negatively or positively affect an organization’s campaign?

Haran: We work closely with thousands of our independent distributors, who are also home-based business owners, and educate them about the power of social media. The fast-paced, always-streaming nature of social media sometimes gives people a false sense of security that what they’re posting isn’t permanent. It is. From a corporate standpoint, we take what we tweet, Facebook and blog seriously.

Aside from the impact a single tweet may have on sentiment, even the simplest of social media has the ability to bolster a campaign or detract from it. It’s important that key players are communicating throughout the entire process to help in the overall success of the campaign.

PR News: What should companies be looking for when attempting to measure the success of consumer engagement?

Haran: It’s different for every company, but at USANA we strive to provide content and information that is easily sharable among our various audiences. We’ve found that our social media efforts serve to build our brand. That is key for us in that it helps make cold markets warm for our independent distributors. It’s easier to talk to someone about a company if there’s already that name recognition.

Our social community is made up of hundreds of ambassadors—everyday customers and fans who love the company— and they’re quick to provide additional information or answer questions. Building a genuine community around your brand signifies a powerful form of consumer engagement and one that should continue to be encouraged.

PR News: Where do you see the most mistakes being made when it comes to tying in social media with business goals?

Haran: Seeing social media as a trendy, quick-fix solution to helping an organization achieve business goals could end up doing more harm than good. Believe it or not, social media done well is not easy and it takes time. There’s a process involved in building a solid foundation, nurturing a vibrant community and creating consistent content that will promote your brand across several platforms.

I encourage businesses to have clear goals in mind and identify ways in which social media can help them achieve those goals. Don’t simply create a Facebook page because you think every campaign needs a Facebook page. As mentioned earlier, social media is powerful; it’s up to businesses to put a team in place to harness that power and make it work for them.

PR News: What’s a key idea/thought you want to leave the conference attendees with?

Haran: Social media done right is a big job. It’s not simply setting up a Facebook page and posting a status update once a day. To be successful, you need to be an active member of the community you have created and be responsive. That means monitoring to see if you can jump in with a comment or provide an answer to a question. It means proactively providing information that your network can then share with others.

Social media is a company-wide effort at USANA. We are fortunate to have such a talented, hard-working staff monitoring sites and creating content full-time, but it’s equally as important to have support from the top down. Once your employees — and by extension for us our independent distributors — buy in to what you’re doing and understand the importance of communicating properly on social media, your community is able to thrive.

Attend PR News' Social Media Measurement Conference on Oct. 2 in NYC and learn more from Tim Haran and other leading social media experts.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson