When we talk about social networking the focus falls on to the current Big 3; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These sites are have reported active user numbers of 1.2 billion, 231 million and 259 million respectively which is clearly a brilliant platform for your business to start engaging with potential customers and maybe even creating some dedicated brand ambassadors.
If you are new to the Social Networks, they can be a daunting place and even some long term users can make potential mistakes so we have put together 3 simple do’s and don’ts for any user to bear in mind when using social networks to market.
1st up is Twitter, the world in 140 characters, a challenging task for any marketer no matter how creative. So what should and shouldn’t you be doing?
Twitter is all about communication and interaction between users. It is a place to share articles, blogs, pictures, infographics and a whole manner of things that interest them and may interest others. Sharing is key, as a business you want to be shared and retweeted but you also want to share and retweet what interests you as a company or an individual. Talk to people, interact with those tweets you like, congratulate contemporaries and share a joke with peers. Twitter should be informal but always stay within your companies online tone-basically act how you would in a professional face to face scenario. Companies can also run Q&A sessions with directors, owners or department heads but be cautious with these as they can be high jacked as seen with high profile companies like British Gas, JP Morgan and of course the Chancellor George Osbourne - all facing a torrent of abuse and ridicule when announcing Q&A sessions. So make sure you are seen in a good light before running a Q&A session.
It is easy to do but you can find yourself lost in the Twitter noise especially if you just use it as a platform to shout “buy my product, use my services, read what I’ve said!” all the time. Twitter is not a busy forecourt or exhibition, it’s non-intrusive and as they say in “Field of dreams” (and also “Wayne’s World 2”) if you build it they will come. If you make interesting content that people will enjoy reading and would like to share they will share it. It’s more likely that if you are active on Twitter people will care what you have to say on Twitter and therefore would be more likely to share what you have to say.
Then there is the social networking giant that is Facebook. Described by its owners and directors as the home of people’s internet experience, where people are most likely to visit first on the internet and where more and more businesses are finding a home and an essential marketing platform. So how do you stand out amongst a sea of competitors?
The best way to stand out has always been to be different, be creative and not to be afraid to try something new. Basically finding your identity as a business on Facebook is like secondary school (or high school depending on where you are reading this) and you have to spend time experimenting and finding the right message and narrative to your companies content. Trying different combinations and blended images across your cover photo and profile picture on your fan page is an easy way to make an instant impact. You can even dedicate a page to just one area of your business - for example, Coffee Art, as Marks & Spencers have done on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook). You can also creatively interact with surveys, competitions or a scavenger hunt through your online content to find clues; the options are as endless as your imagination.
With all open forums you will create a platform for customers to potentially complain about a negative experience with your company. No company is immune to this but the worst thing you can do is ignore this feedback in the public forum. Imagine if you will that Facebook was a pub/bar and you are a bouncer. When someone is being argumentative in your establishment would you eject them straight away or would you try and reason with them to calm down the situation? Of course you would try to talk to the person first as you are a reasonable human being and nearly all issues can be addressed and if done in a public forum, people will then see how reasonable you are and you will garnish respect from that as a company. There is however a distinction between negative feedback and Trolling (the act of being an internet troll involves being abusive, offensive and unreasonable) and as you would in the pub/bouncer situation you should indeed eject this person if the attempts to reason with them fall flat. Experts have different schools of thinking when it comes to dealing with negative feedback but we feel this is the most open and honest way and therefore the best.
Finally we have the “grown up” social network, the one that doesn’t contain those questionable university pictures or the video of your infamous skiing incident from your last holiday - LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the professional social network for those looking to knowledge share across industries, network with peers or post an online CV (or résumé) but it is also a great home for a company page and a way to promote your business, product or services to potential clients as well as maybe even attracting potential investors. So what should you do to make sure your companies presence is just right on LinkedIn?
It is in the mediums name but as obvious as it sounds it isn’t done enough. All of your staff/employees/team should be encouraged to network on LinkedIn. They should then in turn link their job role to your company page (which should be populated with updates, products and services - which people can recommend - and contact details). When your team are out there networking they are in turn increasing your companies profiles and when they do something good or share something interesting that is then associated with your company and Voilà you have a team of networked brand ambassadors raising your company profile across the site to an ever extending network.
LinkedIn is the best platform to shout about your company’s achievements and accolades as it reaches fellow business professionals who can not only appreciate your achievements but somewhat empathise with the effort it would take to achieving good results
or a positive news story. Users should be fully encouraged to use LinkedIn as a PR platform for press releases to a public audience and with your extended network of employees who would also want to share this news with their networks. A feel good PR
story does have a tendency to snowball across LinkedIn once again raising your company’s profile. This is however a double edged sword, as mentioned with the Twitter Q&A’s make sure the stories correlate with public perception for example don’t
announce record profits via your LinkedIn company page after publicly (or even internally) announcing redundancies or price increases.
So there you have it - a simple do or don’t for each of the Big 3 social networks. If you want to build on the stepping stone in to Digital Marketing then why not look into a Digital Marketing Diploma with Professional Academy which could help you capitalise on the world of online marketing as well as specialised pathways to help in understanding Mobile Marketing, Media Branding or Digital Analytics.