The World Of Social Media is here to stay and that has major implications for the business sector, non-profits, organizations and Corporate America. There are over 250 million bloggers, over 845 million Facebook users, 500 million Twitter users, 40 million Google+ users and 34% of these folks post opinions about products and brands. These shared opinions are a big deal, as research shows 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisements.
The problem with social media advertising is that many companies don’t have a clear understanding of how to leverage social media for their business. There are a growing number of businesses whose primary focus and business model is to help organizations leverage social media and they will even do all of the social media work for the companies.
There are a growing number of businesses that seem to have a functional Social Media plan. If used properl, Social Media can be an amazing value-add to a company. There is definitely more than one way to skin the Business Social Media Cat; however it’s important to employ a method that makes sense.
Here are 7 Practical Ways Organizations Can Leverage Social Media
1. Develop A Plan- The old proverb of those who fail to plan, plans to fail is definitely true when it comes to businesses and social media. Develop a plan that starts with the end result in mind. Ask questions such as: Are we trying to create engagement, awareness, share promotions, share industry news, be relevant, provide a conversations hub for customers…? Next question, How are we going co-brand our social media brand with our existing brand?
Developing a plan takes time, energy and research. Take your time, develop a plan or hire someone to help you with the plan before you get jump in and get started. That is one of the services that my company offers, we love helping organizations with strategy. If you have already begun, you should assess your existing plan and re-engage with the new plan. Abraham Lincoln says it this way, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 hours sharpening my ax.”
2. Know Your Voice- This is the golden rule as it pertains to Social Media. If you are speaking on behalf of John Q Organization, make sure that you speak from that voice. Businesses tend to confuse or overlap the voice of their personal brand with the voice of their business brand.
If you are tweeting or posting Facebook updates for your Coffee Shop, you should not be tweeting about mowing your grass, unless of course you are mentioning that it’s time to have a nice cup of Joe afterwards. An easy solution to make sure your business voice is the one speaking is to ask this question before posting — If my company could tweet or post, would they share this? Don’t take away the human and personal interaction element, simply be mindful of your voice.
3. Be Social- The most important thing about social media is the social part and not the media. If you look @Starbucks and @Southwestair Twitter streams, they are always interacting with customers and people. One of the best organizations in the country that appropriately leverages the aspect of being social is @KCIAirport. These guys are brilliant, if you want to see how you can be social, handle customer concerns and build a social media brand by doing the basics. Check them out, they are highly regarded as one of the best! Be Social, Be Accessible, Be Social, Be Relevant, Be Social, Be Authentic, Be Social, Be Real, Be Social, Be about Your Brand, Be Social, Be Entertaining, Be Social and did I mention BE SOCIAL!
The statistic that I shared in the beginning of this post about 78% of customers trust peer recommendations drives home the importance of being social. I think that research could be extended to say that people are more likely to trust and promote brands they feel connected to. Be Social!
4. Make A Name For Yourself- This is a two-part solution. 1.) Make sure that your Twitter and Facebook names are simple, easy to remember and relevant to your company. 2.) Make a name for your company by being active in the world of social media. Have tweet-ups at your place, provide social-media only specials, have promotions that demand viral interaction and be creative. It does not matter if your company is large, small, on-line, or has a physical location, you can Make A Name For Yourself. Familiarizing yourself with the 111 Twitter Tools will help you to become efficient at making a name for yourself.
5. Make Your Profile Work- Make sure your Twitter and Facebook profile represent your company. If your business is a coffee shop be sure to have your logo as your profile pic. and not your personal glamour shot. Check out my 6 Ways To Make Your Twitter Profile Work.
6. Have a Primary Social Media Application- The cool thing about the success of Twitter is that Facebook and Twitter have become kissing cousins. Although Google+ is growing in popularity, it’s like a 2nd. or 3rd. cousin. There are many applications that automate the connection of all of these platforms. Although I am a proponent the multi-updates in multiple social media spaces for certain types of updates, I think it’s helpful to focus on one platform as your primary. For me personally, my primary is Twitter; however I do send many tweets to my Facebook community.
It is great for a business to encourage their customers to connect with them on multiple Social Media medians; however having one or the other as a primary helps with clarity. Imagine your company as bi-lingual. The question is: Is your company’s native language Twitterese, Facebookish, Google+ese etc.? Answer that question and speak that language to your customers.
Again, I prefer Twitter and according to research so do Fortune 100 Companies. As a matter of fact 77% of Fortune 100 companies have active Twitter accounts and that number is increasing each year. That number is significantly higher than the 61% of Fortune 100 companies that have a Facebook page. The bottom line is this: Twitter is simple and engaging.
7. Make It Fun- No matter the strategy you choose, make it fun for your customers. Fun, engaging, enlightening… should be the words your customers use to describe your social media presence. This isn’t necessarily “crack jokes” fun, but it’s definitely not blah blah blah boring.
The bottom line is that Social Media can definitely be a benefit to every business and business owner. Use It, Try It, Be It, Become A Fan Of It, Study It, Know It, Become Good At Leveraging It. In the future, “It” May Just Make or Break Your Company.
“It” Is Social Media!
What do you think? What companies do a great job of leveraging Social Media? Share your thoughts.