The other day I was talking with one of my newer clients about social media. We were just a few hours into a new project that included getting his company’s social media properties in place and setting up an integrated social media engagement strategy. He suddenly said something roughly like this, “Now I get it. Social media is not some automatic tool for marketing your business for free. It’s actually about building something longer term and it takes effort. It’s about community management”. The light bulb had gone off.
No Easy Button
I know a lot of companies are still thinking that there exists something called “Easy Button Marketing“. Because they haven’t really leaped into social media, they initially think that companies just need to get their social media accounts and pages in place (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest), and an “insta-community” appears, ready to “join”, “follow”, “subscribe” or “like”. Ready to engage on their platforms and ultimately, ready to buy their products or services.
Social Media is not an automatic way to market. No, it takes some time and effort to build a foundation. But it can be very powerful once that foundation is in place. Of course, the initial stages of platform-building can be dramatically sped up if you leverage an already big brand or if you’re small but creative. The creative part is the fun part.
In addition, business owners often consider social media one-dimensional. Merely a way to blast out the brand message and promotions. And okay, maybe a little chatting with the audience, but not too much! No, it’s actually a lot more than that. In fact, the blasting can limit the success of a social media strategy. People are looking for a lot more than brand messaging and promotions these days.
I wrote up a few ways that the client could use social media and I thought this would make a great discussion topic, so here’s the list.
Some of the best ways to use social media for business include…
1) To build a platform
Building connections with your audience and industry influencers that allow you to communicate with them (two way) and to (occasionally) market to them.
2) Turn one-time encounters to ongoing relationships
To turn one-time interactions with someone into a longer term relationship (by getting them to like your page, subscribe to your YouTube channel, to follow you on Twitter).
3) Spread your brand and messaging
To get your brand identity distributed via the web of connections that each of your “fans” or followers are connected to. Each time they interact with you, it messages their connections and spreads your brand.
4) Content Distribution for content marketing
Social media works as a key distribution platform for your content marketing strategy. If you create compelling content, social media is an ideal way for other people to distribute your content to maximize your reach (and have more people see your calls to action within the content).
5) A way to engage industry influencers
To find, meet and deepen connections with industry influencers. To build social capital by sharing, liking, featuring their content and engaging in discussions with them.
6) A way to develop social proof
To build credibility and “social proof” for your company by having an active and thriving fan base.
7) Learning and feedback
To get feedback and input from your audience. To learn how they communicate, how others market to them and how they like companies to market to them.
8) Deepen engagement cross-platform
To take followers from one platform and to introduce them to others, deepening engagement and connection.
9) Customer support (whether you like it or not!)
Learn about, react to and resolve customer support issues. You can’t control what someone posts online so how you react is key to the impression you’ll make with your audience.
10) Research opportunities
You don’t need to passively sit back and worry only about your social media platforms. You can learn about what competitors are doing, what potential partners are doing, what suppliers are doing or what customer are doing on their own platforms.
It’s not a “Tools” discussion
Social media is not a tools-focused discussion. Let’s do Facebook! Let’s do Twitter! It’s a nuanced but powerful set of interconnected platforms which begs an over-arching strategy to maximize success.
How else do you use social media for your company?
This list above is not exhaustive but that’s where I’d love your help. What do you see as the best uses for social media for companies, large and small? What am I missing?
What strategies do you use to build your brand and platform online?