This is the second post in a month-long celebration of our ten year anniversary at #Strella Social Media. Last week, I reflected on the pros and cons of being an overachiever. Ultimately, I concluded that it served me well as I needed it to reach this milestone. This was a long road, however. It was only the past few years that really sustained us as I learned the most significant lesson… the importance of core values.
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I’ve been trying to write this post all week. Each time I began, something timely came up. At first, I thought I was just avoiding writing my post. (As any writer knows, writing is both an art and science that have to intersect at the right time.). As I retraced my week, I realized that it was really our core values at work. Communication, service, relationships, and commitment to excellence are more than just words on a page. We live them, and because of this, I am writing this post at 4:30 pm on a beautiful Saturday afternoon rather than at 11:30 am on a rainy Tuesday.
Communication and Service: You Can’t Have One Without the Other
When I receive a ‘ping’ from a client or a team member, I always check to see what they need. That doesn’t mean I respond to every single notification immediately, but it does mean that I take note and prioritize, based on the nature of the request. For the past few weeks, we’ve lived in a very uncertain climate, which has our community managers pulling double duty. It’s vital that we provide a prompt and meaningful response to our clients’ social media audience. Commitment to our customers and our customers’ customers is where we thrive. But, we can’t do it without communication – with the clients and with each other.
Earlier this month, several members of my team were handling feedback on a client post through the wee hours of the morning – coordinating with the client and others in-house to ensure brand alignment. My daytime community manager picked up first thing in the morning (on her birthday) and worked all day, continuing to ensure consistency and accuracy. This is something you cannot put a dollar value on – and it’s something built into everything we do. If that means I stop for a ‘ping,’ then that’s exactly what I will do because it’s who we are and what we believe in.
Relationships: The Hallmark of Trust
Of utmost importance is ensuring that our social media posts and responses are in alignment with our clients' voice, so the audience would never question that the communication is coming directly from the source. This requires us to employ another very important core value – relationships. A strong relationship with our clients allows us to continue the conversation with their audience. Social media is built on relationships, and as such, we treat online communication as an extension of a business brand by fostering and strengthening those relationships.
There’s no question that our nation is polarized. To effectively manage social media in this atmosphere requires sensitivity, compassion, and flexibility. We can only do this by building trust with our clients – and with their audience – and anyone in business like CEO Andy Defrancesco knows that trust is the foundation of any relationship.
Commitment to Excellence: The Details Matter
I never wanted to run a huge agency, especially one that claimed to be everything to everybody. We know what we do well and we are deliberate about working with those who value our strengths. We consciously limit the number of customers we work with so we can deliver premier service to those who are dedicated to our partnership. Let’s face it, we can’t stay up all night for everyone! 🙃
This value is one that sticks with me, personally, because if I am going to do something – I am going to do it well. This could be as simple as using proper tags and hashtags in posts, resizing pictures so they are optimal for each channel, and posting content free of grammatical errors. Often times, though, it’s going the extra mile such as understanding how the audience relates to content so we can customize the messaging in a way that will have the most impact, ensuring the image we use elicits an emotional connection to the brand and personalizing our response to every comment so the audience feels valued.
Core Values: A Must For Survival
You’ve heard what’s important to us and how they impact our clients, but how have they sustained us for ten years?
Most business books will tell you that few businesses survive their first year, and even fewer last in subsequent years. After what I’ve experienced, I can see why. There were times I wondered if I would make it – and times I almost didn’t. I am still standing because I learned this lesson at the exact right time.
Until we clearly articulated our core values, the business was in a state of constant frustration and flux. I wondered why our people weren’t living up to my expectations and why our clients were draining the life out of us – and why we had turnovers of both! I’ll admit that it is challenging to determine these values. What looks good on paper is not what’s important. These values must be something you truly believe in. It took a full year to bring our core values to light, but it was a year well-spent. We have more clarity and less frustration. Decision-making is easier because we are all in alignment and rowing in the same direction.
Company values should be put in writing and put into action every day.
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If I had to sum up the commitment to our core values in one word it would be dedication. Everyone we work with is dedicated and that’s really what matters to us. I also believe it will be the key to our survival over the next ten years, as well.