Social Media for Businesses – in 5 Steps
Before you go ahead and read, we’ve summed the entire article up in one visual. This picture incorporate all 5 of those aspects fundamental to creating and managing a successful social media strategy. Go ahead an keep a copy if it helps!
I’m not going to spend any time convincing you to get with it and go social. Believe it or not, that’s a decision you need to make for yourself, after all, you’re going to be the one setting the time aside, training staff members and letting go of the need to be in control of everything. My job here is to give you advice on managing your social media accounts. This advice, while applicable to most businesses, is written with B2B companies in mind because, in my experience, it is these companies that wonder most whether social media is the right choice; how to manage it and what to do on it.
1. Pick your social networks carefully
• Not everyone should be on every network. Just because your customers are, doesn’t mean you should be. However, that said, with enough creative and careful thinking there is a way for MOST businesses to harness the power of any network. Again, don’t get on every network just because you can, or because you have a fleeting brilliant idea. You’re going to have to sustain these platforms and it’s a much better idea to do less and do it well than to do everything and have no control.
• Before you pick those networks though, KNOW those networks, or at least know the potential those networks have. Yeah, Facebook is big with kids but don’t write it off because you’re an engineer. It’s still the biggest, most active social network out there. Yes, Twitter DOES include a lot of mindless chit chat, but it’s also just about the fastest way to break news. On the flipside, don’t automatically jump on LinkedIn because it’s the ‘professional’s play-pen’, it may not be the best way to get ahold of your audience.
• Stop worrying about your competitors filching your business. If you do what you do well and you manage those networks well, it’s the same as putting your ‘case studies’ online. Your clients/customers are only going to leave you if they’re unhappy or if someone is giving them a better deal, and if they are, well they probably would have left you anyway. Plus, if you DO get online and you do encourage your clients to connect with you, you can ‘mention’ them and put them in the limelight! That way they’ll love you too!
2. Do not think that by virtue of being on social media, you’re social
• This might disappoint quite a few of you, but you STILL need a game plan. Setting your networks up, branding them and putting those pretty icons on your site…well, it’s not going to fill the bank. You need a strategy, and beyond that, campaigns that fit within the strategy.
• Having a sexy, ‘branded’ site is not enough. Having a completed profile is not enough. Honestly, it’s like setting up an ecommerce website and then not listing products on it. What’s the point? It’s like a blog without blog posts, a phone without apps…it’s fundamentally wrong. If you’ve taken the time to create those networks…move onto step 3.
3. Create a ‘general strategy’
• Reflect on what you want to get out of social. Is it more leads/sales? Brand exposure? More visitors to the website? Customer engagement? Stakeholder engagement? Be thorough at this stage, it will matter later.
• Figure out how you are going to ‘measure’ whether or not your strategy is working that way, if it’s not working, you can change it.
• Know who is going to post ‘when’ and ‘on what’. If you want to moderate things before they go out, consider getting a social media tool or giving your staff more training on how they’re to approach and respond to things. Don’t think that you’re saving your ‘butt’ from public opinion by not being on social media. Conversations can still be going on about you. The only difference now being that you can join in.
• Create a ‘social content calendar’ – a rough outline of content you can post to help you on the road to ‘social success’.
4. Create campaigns that are in line with your strategy
• These social campaigns are fundamental to your success. They help you go beyond the mere mundane posting of bits of news, replies to customers, random links and obscure photos. Think of ‘social campaigns’ as a traditional agency might – as an advertising campaign. An advertising campaign has a core message and this message might be distributed in a number of ways – via tv spots, flyers, billboards. It will be one message distributed in different ways. You can do the same on social media. Within your strategy, what is the message you want to convey? Perhaps you’ve just launched a new product and it’s ‘tougher’ than any of your competitors’ products. You would run a campaign about this idea, posting images, sharing links, re-branding your social sites to fit this campaign. It wouldn’t change your overall strategy, but it would fit within your strategy, moving you ever forward, growing your audience and popularizing your company, as well as establishing or re-establishing your brand.
5. When you’ve got a page worth showing the world, publicise hard
• Are you running creative campaigns? Write articles on them, ask others to write about them, submit press releases, get guest bloggers to write about you, and…consider paying for social advertisements. Facebook is good, LinkedIn will work and Twitter too now offers paid advertising space. Dabble. You never know what will work and advertising as well as understanding your advertisements on platforms like Facebook, is far easier than Google Adwords, requiring no additional training.
• Follow those people you want to ‘align’ your business with (and hopefully they’ll follow you). A great way to build connections with other companies is also to ‘mention them’. Facebook, Google+ and Twitter allow you to do this easily. As we said earlier, stop worrying that your competitors will filch your business. They can do this whether you’re online or not and they’re more likely to do it if you’re offline, if they can make you look ‘behind the times’.
• Beyond that…repeat, experiment and be creative. Monitor your success. Respond to criticism (it’s often a great opportunity to show your customer service). Congratulate your followers, clients and customers. Make them feel a part of your business. Rope them in and they’ll help you spread the word.
Above all, don’t be afraid to be INTERESTING. Just because you sell electrical parts to engineers or metal to factories or something that’s hard to catch a ‘pretty’ picture of, doesn’t mean you have to maintain a boring profile. I’m sure that even your most serious and intellectual customers have a penchant for a company that’s a ‘front runner’, that has a sense of humour and that will go boldy where others fear to tread. If going ‘viral’ is not for you (it should be as it means publicity!), even using your social networks just to supplement customer service, will require you to show the human, more genuine side of your business. Let your website wear the suit and your social platforms the smile. After all who wants to bother with a serious twitter page, or a boring facebook page? It’s like dealing with a grumpy customer.
Social media has been helping companies get great brand exposure time and time again. A simple google search will reveal any number of social campaigns that have had great success. If you’re still not sure about whether social is right for you, get in touch. We’ll be happy to advise. Otherwise, let us know your thoughts and leave a comment below!
Xanthos offers a range of social media services including:
- Social Media Branding and Social Network Set Up
- Social Media Strategy Creation
- Visual Aids and Infographics to supplement social media campaigns
- Digital Consultancy for social strategies, campaigns and overall digital strategy
- Setup of Social Dashboards so you can monitor your progress
Need social help? Get in touch with us here or give us a call.