Social Media – It’s not about the size of your boat, it’s how you row it!

Disclaimer: I’m not a social media expert (well not yet, but I’m working on it!)

When I was asked if I wanted to turn the reports and presentations I was writing into a blog format, I jumped at the chance. Other than Facebook I had no experience of social media, so I started spending a lot of time on Google to learn about the subject. Having learned lots I want to run through some of the things I picked up, not from an ‘experts’ perspective but as someone who has put ‘social media’ into practise.

Should I adopt a social media strategy? Well do you have customers? Of course you do otherwise you wouldn’t have a business/job. Social media is a form of communicating with your clients in a more personal way, it’s on their terms and they choose whether to engage with you or not. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you work/own a small or large company; every business should have a social media presence to communicate with existing and prospective customers.

Content is a huge topic with many different aspects to consider, it really deserves a separate blog to cover it. As there are so many good blogs out there that cover content, I’ll keep my thoughts brief and talk only about blogs and micro blogs.

Not posting content would be like picking up an incoming call and not saying anything, the person on the end would hang up and probably seek out your competitors. Recently I have spoken to a few people about digital content; the biggest issues seem to be….

  • What would I write about?
  • Why would people be interested in what I have to say?

So here are some simple ideas for content

  • Think about conversations you have with customers and suppliers.
  • Do they ask for advice or questions?
  • So many of my blogs have started from a conversation or question, even this blog was initiated from a chat.
  • The internet makes it easy to research products online, think about the last time you brought a car; I bet you checked out the performance, economy and safety features etc online before parting with your cash.
  • Write product reviews, testimonials or even case studies of the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • If your ideas come from your customers then I bet other people will be interested too.

The next step is to decide which social media platforms to use. This will depend on your business and whether you are targeting B2B or B2C.

The are three main platforms to consider:

(Yes there are endless platforms to choose from, but I’m looking at what I consider to be the three most popular sites)

  • Facebook,
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

I chose to go with Twitter and Linkedin simply because this is where my audience ‘hang out’. If you deal with businesses then you definitely need to be on Linkedin and Twitter, if you target consumers then Facebook is without question the platform for you.

At this point I bet many of you are thinking that you don’t have the time to invest in maintaining multiple platforms, thinking about and writing content in addition to your day to day job. Don’t worry; there are a number of good social media management platforms available such as Hootsuite and Social Bro to name a few. These sites allow you to keep an eye on your chosen social media platforms, so you don’t need to keep logging into your different social sites and you can view comments, reply to posts and messages. Another benefit of using a management suite is the function to schedule your posts/tweets, this ensures that your posts are consistent and you can manage your time effectively.

The next step is to build a ‘tribe’, whether it is through Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, there is no point in creating or curating fantastic content if no-one reads it. It was something I struggled with at first, but here are some great ways to build an audience.

  • Join in with conversations around you; if you can contribute to a discussion then others will want to know more about you.
  • Find a brand advocate for your company, preferably a customer (your mum won’t have the same impact!) and connect with them.
  • Depending on the field you are in, real world networking may be the way forward. Acquiring contacts and inviting them to connect online.
  • Don’t forget to listen to what people are saying about you on social sites, this can be a valuable insight into how your business is perceived, you may even unearth some potential opportunities.

And finally, the myth that social media is free. Yes it’s free to create a profile, blog or sign up to a management suite. However you need to invest time into managing your social media platforms, creating and or curating content. Unless the person/s responsible for the social media function in your business is a volunteer, then you are paying someone to look after it. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase ‘time is money’; well this is a perfect way to sum up the cost of social media.

Worried about the cost of your time? Well sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate!

Still not convinced on utilising social media? Well how about these nuggets!

(All figures relate to the Welsh average)

  • 37% thoroughly research products before they buy them
  • 50% check a number of sources before making a significant purchase
  • 23% say if they trust a brand, they buy it without looking at the price

Source: GB TGI Radio+ 2012 Quarter 2, Kantar Media, Wales BARB region

This is a very basic insight into corporate social media! I may even revisit this blog and look at each stage in further detail, in the meantime please leave a comment below or email me jodi.stuart@realradio.co.uk or via Twitter @realradiojodi

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