How does your business need to adapt to benefit from social marketing?
How does your business need to adapt if your company is going to benefit from the new world order of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and all the rest?
- Marketing and Sales Unite! - for social marketing techniques to work, your sales and marketing teams need to learn to work together. With the right instruction, your Sales guys get a chance to work their people networking skills online, and Marketing improve lead generation by creating social content that responds to customer needs. Hand-in-hand, these teams can seriously improve sales at much lower cost to the business.
- Long-term marketing plans become a thing of the past - we need to learn to move at a much quicker pace, responding to opportunities as they happen. In practice, this means a rough long-term plan which can be adapted and worked up in more detail on a monthly or quarterly basis.
- Fairness and Transparency - online reviews and recommendations found on social media sites are giving customers a clearer indication of where to find quality services and products. In this environment the best, and not necessarily the biggest, will rise to the top. That's great news for small businesses who know how to keep their customers happy.
- Loosen The Reins - it's time to give up the illusion that we can keep centralised control of all online content. Instead we have to find ways to allow company-wide activity whilst managing the risks. A good Social Media Policy and internal training will help your business cope better.
- Empower Your People - don't just involve Sales & Marketing. If it's service or knowledge you sell, your people are your brand, and that includes your front-of-house people, your technical experts, your consultants and management. For best results, get everyone on board and support their involvement with guidelines and training.
- Greater Visibility and Engagement - visibility works two ways, your business has many more places to hang out and raise it's profile. You can also find out much more about your customers via blogs, profiles, twitter, online comments etc. If used with integrity, this should lead to better levels of engagement, as you have deeper conversations with customers and prospects.
- Authenticity - it's time to ditch the corporate-speak - informal, personable, honest communication works best.
- Tailor Text For Social Media Audiences - when you've got something to say, don't just post your latest press release. Better to re-write in blog or newsfeed format for higher impact.
- Be Positive About Criticism - if someone openly disagrees or challenges you online - don't just delete. Respond with your point of view. This is an opportunity to show what you're made of, win friends and possibly new customers.
- Speed and Efficiency - new online software tools enable us to setup and edit workspaces, online events and and website content quickly and efficiently. Marketing projects can be reviewed and approved, regardless of your location, online and even on your mobile.
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So What Are The Benefits?
If you're prepared to make a commitment to social marketing for the long term, the benefits are considerable.
Click on the Mind Map below to see what's on offer.
Common Misconceptions About Social Marketing
But, I hear you say! There are x,y and z reasons why our business doesn't need to focus on social marketing at the moment. Maybe social marketing isn't essential for absolutely everyone. However, bear with me a few more minutes. Consider the following common misconceptions about Social Marketing before you make your mind up.
Early days yet - let's wait and see - it's fair comment to say social marketing is a new development. But those who engage with it now are more likely to steal a march on the competition. And of course, many of your customers are already signed up and hanging out on the social web right now. For example, over 4 million UK citizens are now signed up to LinkedIn, the world's largest business network. Do you know what they're up to? We spend a lot of time there and it's clear from our observations and feedback that many are not quite sure what to do there yet. However, if you went in supported by best practice guidelines, training and some tried-and-tested approaches, you could make quite an impression.
Our website is the best place to interact with our customers - Will time poor professionals search out your 'out-of-town website/community' or turn to recommended providers on the 'social media high street'. Better to think of Social Media Profiles, NewsFeeds and Group Discussions as 'high street' links to your business. Customers will still dig deeper for features, examples and pricing information on your website. But increasingly, the credibility of your business, products and people will be established via your public social media profiles,recommendations, reviews and discussions.
Twitter is not for business - Ok, yes agreed there is a lot of twaddle on Twitter. However, did you know that website businesses like Peerindex.net are now tracking the influence of nearly 2 million business, IT, government and science experts by analysing engagement levels on Twitter. This is a trend I predict to become huge in the future, where the best people and businesses are ranked across sectors and regions. This is especially important if you sell knowledge or online products of any sort. I'd recommend building your Twitter following and the quality of your exchanges with a view to making it on to these future listings.
Twitter Directories and Recommended Lists are also on the rise, making it easier to follow and assess experts - think of Twitter blogging as way of establishing a connection with your prospects, before they start to engage with your business.
Added Twitter Bonus: your Twitter profile will list high up the search engine results making it easier for people to find you by more traditionalweb search methods
PR disasters guaranteed - If you set a blanket veto on social media marketing, for fear of the worst, you're blowing an opportunity to better engage with your market. Better to create a Social Media Policy which sets out do's and don'ts for talking about your brand and company information online. Plan for the worst. Set a strategy and back it with guidelines and training and you're far more likely to avoid that nightmare scenario. For example, make sure to set checking processes in place for sensitive subjects such as new hires and departures, take-overs etc. Also, make sure to outline best practice when talking about your competitors. Training is essential so everyone is clear on what is acceptable or not. In particularly PR sensitive sectors, make the terms of your social media policy contractual for added reassurance.
Tried Blogs / Groups / Forums and it doesn't work for us - Did you ask for feedback from customers when planning your previous blogs, groups and forums? Also, how does your audience currently interact online. There's a lot to be learned by observing existing behaviours, successes and expert best practice elsewhere. Whatever you do, it's essential to provide content that has real value, whether that's information, entertainment or utility. If your Online Content Strategy is not up to scratch, don't blame your audience for staying away.
Further action not needed - we're already setup on LinkedIn, Xing, ecademy etc - Yes, but how are you interacting with your customers? Are your people connected to your company profile? Do you know if their business profiles are up-to-date and accurate? And what are your Key Performance Indicators for the success of your social media presence? Are you just following the crowd, or really working to build and engage with your community?
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Ready to talk more about social marketing for your business? Then contact Susanne Currid today to arrange a 'no obligation' chat.