Social media, while originally developed for personal use, has quickly become a viable tool for companies wanting to keep their customers updated regarding new product announcements, company developments, new service offerings, etc. Some social sites, such as Linkedin, also offer the ability to create “groups”; where like-minded individuals can come together to take part in online discussions.
Getting involved with social media is pretty easy – chances are, you already have a company Facebook page, Twitter account and most likely a Linkedin page. In order for a company to be successful with a social media campaign, you need to do a few things:
Develop a consistent flow of information that your viewing audience will find informative. Social media profiles are a lot like your snack cupboard at home – if every time you open the cupboard and find stale chips, it won’t take long before you don’t open that cupboard anymore. The same goes for social sites – if you don’t keep a steady stream of updated information, people won’t have a reason to keep coming back. Then, when you actually do have something of value, there’s no one around to see.
Engage your audience. This may seem obvious but a lot of people we work with think that “good content” is in itself, engaging – that’s almost never the case. In fact, the best thing you can do is utilize Linkedin to create a group. Once the group is created, post common questions you’re asked along with the solutions to those questions. Before long, customers and non-customers will start asking questions specific to their needs. After a while, you’ve developed an online knowledge base that’s available to anyone you grant permission to.
The final item you need to consider is industry news. Most industries have at least 10 to 30 good online trade magazines, forums, etc. that post content on a daily and even hourly basis. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have time to scan all of these sites and neither does your customers or potential customers. This opens up a great opportunity for you to become a news aggregator for your industry. How great would it be if people, including non-clients, found that all the news they consider important for their industry is being aggregated and re-posted on your Facebook page, with quick links in Twitter and Linkedin? It won’t take long and you’ll be the go-to place for industry specific, relevant news updates.
Well, in a few short bullet points, you’ve seen a simple solution to help you draw more clients and keep your current customers happy and as an added bonus, social media offers a way to boost your keyword positions in the search engines; that means free traffic! However, we can’t just post anything that we find and assume it’s relevant to you or appropriate for your viewing audience. But, if you could commit to sending us an email with articles you’ve written, faq’s you’ve put together from common questions you get asked, even links to articles from online trade magazines, we can do the posting for you and save you hours of promotion time.
If you want to get more creative and start a Linkedin group or two, that will require a bit more on your part. We can setup and optimize your company profile but it will be up to you to monitor and respond to questions or comments posted by members of the group(s). This is one thing you don’t want us to handle – it would be much like a doctor asking their marketing firm to help out in the operating room… Disaster is sure to follow!
One final note – I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they’d rather invest time in an email newsletter to 30,000 customers than spend time targeting a few hundred through social media. That’s a valid point and email is a valid marketing platform, but here’s the reason those few hundred are important:
You can post information all day long to social media sites without being considered a spammer. More than one or two emails a week and chances are pretty good people will start unsubscribing.
Social media grows exponentially – the more relevant information you provide, the more people will follow. There is no need to buy lead lists, scam email addresses, etc. – these people are following you with an expectation of getting information on a regular basis.
And finally, you don’t need to prepare a huge email newsletter packed full of things you want to say. In fact, it’s much better if you post small, easily digested bits of information that get you’re customers thinking.
For most, you probably already have a social media program. You’re Facebook and Twitter profiles most likely consist of links to products on your site, however, if you want to get a bit more involved and help us to improve your data stream, you can have a social media program that will provide value to your customers and quality content to the search engines.