Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The power of social media

Posted by Mark Brousseau

There’s a lot of buzz around the power of social media as a tool companies can use for demonstrating their thought leadership, and engaging – and potentially empowering – their target audiences.

To be sure, effectively using social media can help companies:

… Generate visibility, name recognition and credibility for their business
… Boost Google Search Engine results and increase Web traffic
… Strengthen business partnerships
… Generate qualified leads

But what’s the most effective ways to use social media?

Broadly speaking, there are 5 key steps for successfully using social media:

1. Develop a strategy
2. Establish a presence (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
3. Look for ways to expand the reach of your message
4. Look for ways to nurture existing and new relationships
5. Properly maintain your social media presence

For instance, Twitter, with its 140-character limit, can help drive prospects to your company (in fact, many companies think of Twitter as a search engine like Google). With Twitter, companies can promote contests, share timely information, distribute useful (read: educational) links, personify their brand, build credibility and influence, and even follow their competitors (it does work both ways!).

The key to successfully leveraging Twitter is for the user to sound more like someone who just happens to work at your company, rather than someone whose sole purpose is to push your company. You can accomplish this by personifying your company, answering and posting questions/issues, announcing sales, deals and corporate updates, and generally building buzz around your company.

What you don’t want to do is sound like a press release, or “spam” followers with links to your company website (don’t worry: with the right buzz, followers will seek out the site on their own!).

These are some ideas to get companies started.

So, which social media strategies are working – or not working – for your company?

1 comment:

Jeff Quandt said...

Mark,

Social Media Marketing is certainly something every business needs to add as part of an overall marketing program that still includes the use of traditional media.

The dilemma today is that many company execs have heard about social media and at some level understand they need to get involved in social media, but just do not have a clue how.

B2C companies are the early adopters and have caught on much faster than B2B firms in using social media to "converse" with buyers and customers. Yet, social media has a place in a B2B marketing program.

I would recommend that anyone seriously considering implementing a social media program to "listen" first to where the conversations about and industry and products is taking place.

Another factor is social media is conversationally based with many-to-many dialogs taking place. Traditional media is one-to-many monologues. This will tell the company which social media tools should be used as part of their social media program. Too many marketers, business leaders and even traditional agencies try to use social media to "push" out their messages in a traditional media tactic. This will not work and will alienate buyers and customers instead.

I recommend to my clients - especially the B2B clients - that as part of any social media marketing program they need to devote the resources (people and time primarily) to "listen", then "engage" in the conversations, and finally to "publish" content through blogs primarily.

How much time needs to be devoted to social media on a daily basis? That varies as much as the social media tools required for each business. There is no "cookie-cutter" answer to this question. Each company needs to have a strategy tailored to their needs and industry, with tactical implementation in a variety of ways by one or more people.


Jeff Quandt
On-Q Marketing
Omaha, NE