Using Social Media to Build Your Business

by Linda Pophal

 

“Does social media really work?” I get this question a lot and, as for most marketing communication-related questions, my answer is generally, “It depends.” It depends on what is being offered, who the audience is and what the goals/objectives are. Social media can certainly work to drive business results, but it is still not the answer in all cases.

It has, however, worked well for Strategic Communications. I launched Strategic Communications in 2008, and social media has been the primary means I’ve used to grow and position my business. Social media also represents much of the work that we do with clients in the B2B space to help them grow their businesses.

For marketing consultants (like me), business consultants and service providers (e.g. attorneys, healthcare providers, etc.), effectiveness is really built on reputation. The ability today to use online marketing to help establish and support reputation represents great value to these types of organizations—as well as others.

The exact “mix” of online activities for any particular business will vary. In fact, no two of our clients are exactly alike in terms of the channels we use, the types of messages we send, or the frequency of those messages. It all depends on their audiences (which will really dictate which channels will be most effective) and their goals and objectives.

In our case, our target audience is primarily service providers who wish to establish themselves as thought leaders to grow their clientele. It’s a B2B (business-to-business) audience, so we have found LinkedIn and Twitter to be our two primary means of building awareness. We have used both of these channels to connect with and to grow an audience of potential clients/supporters. We’ve also used those channels to share information (content marketing) that helps establish our own, and our clients’, credibility with these audiences. One important point here is that these social media activities are generally designed to drive traffic back to a website to generate leads that will result in new business.

Here are some best practices to leverage these tools most effectively:

  • Have a very clear idea of who you wish to communicate with and why. What results are you looking for?
  • Choose the communication vehicles that make the most sense for you. For us, and for many of our clients in the B2B space, that has meant that Facebook is not one of the tools we use; however, for B2C (business-to-consumer) companies in certain fields, Facebook would be a better tool than LinkedIn.
  • Commit to a regular schedule of communication. You need to blog, post and interact with your audiences regularly. For us that means updating Twitter at least 3 times every weekday, LinkedIn updates at least twice a week, a long-form LinkedIn post once a week, two weekly blog posts, and ongoing monitoring of feedback/input across these channels. But, again, each of our accounts uses a very different mix of channels, content and timing to drive desired results. We even have some clients that aren’t actively engaged on social media channels. As I said at the outset, “it depends.”
  • Be consistent in terms of the image (e.g. brand) you are conveying across all channels. Everything you do online serves to establish your “brand”—the more consistent you are, the stronger that brand will be.

These tools can also be used for market and competitive intelligence. You can learn a lot about your competitors and your potential customers by monitoring their online activity, and you certainly should be doing that. It’s a very inexpensive form of marketing research. After all, they’re likely monitoring you as well!

 

Recommended Reading

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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