Social media – it’s all the buzz, some people love it, some people hate it, some are addicted, some are scared to death of it.
Some say that is has made people anti-social (especially when someone is tweeting during a dinner outing). It has also allowed for an extra level of communication and engagement with people that didn’t exist before.
Let’s first look at social media from a business perspective, and as a communication tool.
- Facebook now has more than 1 billion active users
- Customers prefer contacting companies via social media than through a call centre for customer service questions and requests
- Pinterest is sending more traffic to websites than Yahoo
- These statistics speak pretty strongly, so I’m not going to bore you with a lot more. If you haven’t seen the Socialnomics 2012 video, here is nice recap.
The bottom line is that like it or not, social media has fundamentally changed how people communicate and is continuing to do so.
As a business owner how do you respond?
- When someone phones your company, what do you do?
- When someone emails your company, what do you do?
- When someone tweets your company, what do you do?
- When someone makes a comment (good, bad or ugly) about your company online, what do you do? Are you aware of it? How do you respond?
Some things to consider when incorporating social media into your business:
What is your business goal; what do you want to achieve?
-Improved customer service
-Higher client retention rates
-More incoming sales leads
-Increased average orders
All of these business directives and more can be achieved and enhanced through proper execution of social media platforms.
Do you have a monitoring system in place?
Are you monitoring for mentions of your brand or executives online? What is the ‘sentiment’ about your brand? Positive, neutral, negative? How do you then respond?
Do you have a social media policy?
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Should your staff be allowed to Facebook, Tweet, and Pin and have LinkedIn discussions throughout the day? How much time should be spent on that? Who can, what can they say? What happens if they make a mistake? How do you balance the transparency expected in social media, trusting others to represent your brand online, knowing that whatever is posted will be out there forever (deleted or not).
What else can social media be used for?
- Harnessing the online crowd of the internet for outsourcing = crowdsourcing to reduce costs, improve creativity, etc.
- Capitalize on the vast amount of information that is online so that you are always in the know about your industry.
Selecting the Right Platforms
To use social media in your business effectively takes an understanding and preparation of all the above points and more. After that you can figure out which social media channels to use and how. Typically there is one, maybe 2 obvious platforms that are going to provide your company the best benefit, and that’s where you should focus your resources. You can touch on the others, but it’s better to do one really well than do all of them not so well.
It is a lot of information to take in, so at WSI Milton we decided to train our clients via a weekly training session that lasts approximately 6 months. It delves into each topic above in detail, plus many more, and explores each social platform so that there is a solid understanding of how to use them from a business perspective. We’ve also added a webinar / conference phone system so that people who can’t make it in person can attend virtually.
Social Networking is No Different Than Traditional Networking
The most important component of social media is to simply engage people. Well, it’s sometimes not that ‘simple’, and takes months to figure out and gain traction. Social networking is the same as real world networking, it doesn’t provide overnight success. It’s like what they preach at BNI, one of the top networking groups in the world: Visibility, Credibility, Profitability. You first need to be constantly visible, eventually you will build trust and credibility and at some point you will get leads, sales and profitability from it if you’ve done it right.
The last key point is that Google (ok, and the rest of the search engines) are paying more attention to social signals. Google’s goal has always been to rank the most relevant websites the highest. It measure relevancy by websites that have great content, and if that content is so great, people are talking about it and sharing it. Sharing is the name of the game in the social world.
In summary, social media is becoming as necessary as having an email address. It takes time and effort to use it properly, but when you do it will help you achieve your business goals, enhance communication with your stakeholders and give you bonus points with your search engine rankings.
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