Social media outlets are ideal for networking and communicating business ideas or ideas of any kind really, but most users don’t know the proper strategy to maximize their efforts and go from simply using social media, to using it to their advantage.
When social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter first came into existence, they were novelties.
Users had to learn how to use them, and more often than not they weren’t aware of the wide range of uses for social media along with its complexity.
By discussing the type of content that should be shared on various social media platforms, along with posting frequencies and commonly committed faux pas, companies can be armed with the tools they need to become social media mavens.
The Humanizing Effect
The very first thing anyone handling social media needs to know is exactly what is acceptable to post, and what has no place floating around your company profile.
Because social media allows for such a wide range of content opportunities, knowing what your audience is receptive to is even more important.
“JanSan manufactures and distributors should look for content that is helpful, interesting and even funny. Tips are always great, as is information about products and services,” explains Robert Kravitz, president of AlturaSolutions Communications.
“Content should not only express what your company and proposition stands for and represents, but should also be information that appeals to your audience,” adds Leah Runge, marketing director for AFFLINK’s eLev8 process.
It is important to keep in mind that, not only should you use your chosen social media platform to share information to purely inform your audience, it should also be a forum for conversation, ideas and networking.
Posts and/or tweets should fun, as well as informational, and open ended in order to foster communication and discussion that could end up being beneficial to, not only the users, but to your company.
Before the Internet and the advent of social media, end users had very little contact with the companies they did business with, unless it was through a sales rep or, under the least desirable of circumstances, to complain.
In the increasingly technological age that we now live in, that is rapidly changing.
End users want to be able to connect with the companies and brands that they use, and frequently look to their presence on the Internet as an indication of how well the company knows what its users are looking for.
“Feel free to post stories and pictures of company events. One of the benefits of social media is that end users can view manufacturers, not as big, cold corporations, but as a group of people, just like you and me, doing a job and doing their best to help others,” says Kravitz.
It is important for a company, or anyone in charge of being the social media face of a company, to be careful not to say anything against a competitor.
It is easy to let the fingers fly and type out the first thing that comes to your mind, but it can be seen as poor form for one company to “bash” another.
“If one of the ‘Fans’ on a Facebook page says something [against a competitor], that is his or her viewpoint,” says Kravitz.
“But, if it goes too far or is too derogatory, the Facebook administrator should consider removing it.”
Be Seen And Heard
Having a healthy social media presence is no longer a suggestion, it is practically a requirement for good business.
Social media is now being used to establish a connection between a company and a customer.
Talking to or at customers is no longer acceptable and does not forge a lasting connection between company and customer.
Manufacturers are now interacting, engaging and answering questions they get from their customers and end users, one of the most important marketing aspects of the social media platform.
And, in a world of instantaneous results, where everyone wants everything faster, social media is the best way possible to make sure your customers get the answer they want, when they want them: Now.
“Social media allows for instant satisfaction when it comes to becoming informed about a product or company,” explains Runge.
“A fresh and active social media platform can show validity in the world of technology and cyber progress. Being accessible to current and prospective customers creates a positive rapport and builds a deeper relationship that will extend beyond a simple one-time purchase.”
A sometimes customer will not do as much good to a company as a customer for life.
Establishing A Presence
The first question a company must ask itself when delving into the deep end of social media is “why?”
Why should your company have a social media site is the first and most important question that needs to be answered before creating a page or registering a twitter handle.
“If you believe it can help the company market itself and its products, for instance, or give customers and potential customers a warm and fuzzy feel about the company, those are good reasons to have a social media site,” says Kravitz.
When the decision to move forward with social media is made, it is important to sit down with everyone who will be responsible for creating a strong social media presence.
Having a strong backbone from the top down will help to create a culture that is fully committed to cultivating your presence in the vast social media landscape.
The social media landscape in the business-to-business (B2B) world is not as vibrant as in the business-to-consumer (B2C) world, but it is getting stronger.
Networking sites like LinkedIn already have a strong business basis, allowing executives a platform on which to share information.
When it comes to marketing potential, and general outreach, Facebook and Twitter are getting more and more traction.
It can be a good idea for manufacturers or business owners to tie their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts together, allowing you to hit two social media birds with one stone.
After establishing which social media platforms will be utilized, companies should develop a plan that more thoroughly explains how social media will be used, who is going to be in charge and what type of content will be posted, as well as when that content will be posted.
“This is a plan that may evolve over time, but the best company social media sites are those with some type of strategy behind them,” notes Kravitz.
Ultimately, your social media presence is what you make of it; like any functional and achievable marketing plan, it is crucial to ensure that the goals created by the social media team are goals that you can stick with.
“With at least three Facebook posts or five tweets a week considered “acceptable,” turn your focus to the information you are sharing. High-quality information a few times a week will result in a far greater return on investment (ROI) than several irrelevant posts that do not grab the attention of your audience,” cautions Runge.
It is important to note that social media is an investment of time, and can take up a good deal of time, if you want to utilize the platform to the greatest extent of its ability.
Pages should have a person dedicated to be in charge of the process and responsible for the sites and their content.
This person should check what has been posted, or does all of the posting themselves.
Random postings by anyone in the office, though they might seem quicker and like you would be able to cover more ground more quickly, should be avoided.
“Such lack of control has led to problems in the past, and many companies now have rules and regulations on who can post to company social media sites along with exactly how that information is to be presented,” explains Kravitz.
Social media will never be completely figured out.
It is constantly evolving and changing as new capabilities for each of the platforms are created or discovered.
Very simply, what works now, might not work down the road; what doesn’t work now might be figured out by some techie.
When social media first came to our attention, we weren’t sure what it would be used for.
Now, with some practice and even a little luck, these platforms can be used to help promote and humanize your company and allow you to engage with those that make you successful.