Social Media is everywhere. It’s in our minds whenever we take a picture or think about tweeting something, it’s in our pockets with us everywhere we go, it’s on the news constantly… literally everywhere.
Despite this, a lot of companies are still completely unaware as to how they could be leveraging social media as part of their business strategy. Even worse, a lot of companies are unaware as to either what’s being said about them on social media sites, and how their company is portrayed on them.
So, let’s take a look at some of the areas companies can grow or fail in social media, along with the pitfalls and the triumphs we’ve seen over the years;
Don’t Jump in Head-First
The first mistake companies often make in social media is setting it up purely for the sake of setting it up. A lot of companies jump in head-first, creating their social media profiles, decking them out with nice designs… and then not putting the processes in place to manage and update them. In most cases, it would be better for a company to not do anything with social media, rather than setting one up and letting it fall into neglect. When you’re browsing around for a new supplier or looking to buy a product, would you choose a company that supports the community around their product on Twitter offering support, or do you choose the company that has three followers and last tweeted two and a half years ago?
Have a real strategy
Let’s say that a company has done it right so far. They’ve set up the profiles, they’ve got either a dedicated staff member or a team looking after their social media activity… but what do they put out? What do they tweet and post on their timelines? Social media should fit into a business’s strategy, and not become a chore. It’s one of the very few ways that businesses can interact directly with both current and potential customers, but should not be underestimated.
Let’s look at an example; say you are a website design specialist, and your key business focus through social media platforms is to try and drive more business through social media. What’s the process? Do you start posting ‘Get a new website designed!’ every five seconds on Facebook? No. Rule number one: Social media is about giving, not taking – people don’t join and spend time on social networks to be sold to… they want to keep in contact with their friends and family and stay up to date with current information (and in some cases, procrastinate at work). Also, don’t be lazy and just auto-connect your blog to Facebook & Twitter.
So, how could social media fit into company’s overall strategy? The first thing companies need to do is to stop seeing social media as a place to sell. Ultimately, it’s not, and we’re seeing more and more companies realize this and are morphing their social media strategies accordingly. Social media is a platform to engage with potential and existing customers, to showcase what you’re doing as a company, and to keep people interested.
Going back to our previous example, a website design company could look at various ways to expand their social media presence and boost their brand;
- Do they have a design portfolio page or a client showcase? That’s a great way to try and engage social media users. “Check out our new site launch” would be a great way to get some inbound traffic, and provide an engaging experience for users.
- Is something trending on Twitter that your company can get involved with? Jump on it – trending topics are a great way to drive some attention to your content.
- One of the best ways that companies can generate interest on social networking sites is through the use of blogs and information sharing. By sharing the knowledge of your industry and distributing helpful information, your business and brand will stick in people’s minds, and potentially make ‘followers’ out of them.
- Social Media isn’t just for the internet. Make sure your social media handles are on your stationery, business cards, letterheads… get it out there!
So, the next big question is, which social media platform is right for you? Do you have a talented spokesman who deals well with public speaking? It might be a good opportunity to leverage YouTube. Are you a very visual company, working in design? Give Pinterest a try.
Just using social media isn’t the key… it’s using it correctly through the right channels that matters. Once you’ve identified what your goals are, allocated your staff and their time, shout it from the rooftops. Flaunt your message, share your content, and be creative. Social media is about breaking the norm, and communicating fluently and constantly. Try to engage with KI’s (Key Influencers) in your industry or market, retweeting and sharing as you go. Communicate genuinely, tone down the sales speak, and you will succeed in social media.