Social Business

Social Media: Understand Why Before Hiring an Internal or External Resource (1 of 2)

As the owner of a marketing agency, I am often asked whether a company should take on social media themselves, or hire an outside agency to do it for them. It’s a good question. In fact, it’s one of the most important and frequently asked questions of our digital business age.  However, before I answer who should implement your social media, I want to address why you should make social media an integral part of your marketing strategy.

 

Small and medium business (SMB) owners, particularly those of B2B businesses, struggle with finding the value of social media. They often think of it as nothing more than people talking about what they had for dinner last night, or the music they are listening to (which, depending on your company’s field of expertise, may be rather useful information!). To be sure, there are many conversations occurring, covering a wide array of topics. Regardless, if you have a brand and want to further it,I advise you not toignore social media.

 

If we think back to about 14 years ago, in 1998, when the internet was at its infancy, many SMB’s were questioning whether or not they should have a website.  Although it is hard for us to imagine this debate happening today, business owners were questioning the validity of websites, and wanted to see hard evidence to substantiate their investment.

 

Their questions made perfect sense then, as they do today regarding social media – they want to see real proof to justify an investment in social media, either with internal staff or an external agency.

social-media

 

There are various statistics bandied about the industry when looking for this “hard evidence” or value in social media, but the top four stats that stand out for me are:

 

  • 62% of the world’s population uses social networking, making it the most popular online activity.
  • Over half of social networkers follow a brand online.
  • Over half of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand if they are fans of the company online.
  • Online ad spending increased to just over $30 billion in the U.S. last year, over 20% increase (Source: ComScore).

 

I share these four stats as I feel that they best provide the “hard evidence” a SMB needs to understand why they should integrate social media into their marketing strategy: the audience is there, your competitors are there, the audience wants to engage with brands there, and you can target your advertising there.

 

Simply put, social media is not going away anytime soon. As such, if you are not using social media in your marketing strategy, you run the risk of losing business to other companies that are.

 

In next week’s blog, I’ll outline some points to consider when making a decision to use internal or external resources to execute your social media strategy.

Have you integrated social media into your marketing strategy?  If not, why not? If so, do you have any success stories you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments below.

Look Who’s Using Twitter!

They said it would never happen.  They said it just wasn’t relevant. Well, the tables have turned, and lawyers are now starting to use Twitter to engage and attract clients.

Although many firms do have blogs and Twitter accounts, they often link back to e-newsletters or company bulletins – meaning, lawyers actually do not have much of a presence online beyond what the firm website has to offer.

If lawyers, renowned for their time-tracking activities, are now taking the time to tweet and blog, then it means it’s time for other professionals to get on the bandwagon, too!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Tweeting doesn’t take as much time as you think. Do a simple test; assess the amount of time you take to write your article in the company e-newsletter or other marketing pieces and compare it to writing a test tweet of 140 characters. It’s 140 characters, not words. This test can be repeated for the blog, too. A blog will take you more time as it should be at least 250 words long.
  2. Create a Twitter account name that makes sense for your business. Cute names or long names are not appropriate for a professional Twitter account.
  3. If you have nothing to tweet about today, then simply let Twitter help you by reviewing the top tweets or news and developments in the business world.  If you see something of interest, then re-tweet it.
  4. If you do find you have the time to write an article, then start a blog. A blog is a document longer than a tweet (250 + words) and it is an opportunity to impart your knowledge and information with your stakeholders.
  5. Create a blog name that is relevant and targeted to what you want to be the “expert” in.
  6. Blogging and Twitter require a commitment from you. Either commit or don’t even start (see #1).

As I have said in many of my previous blogs, don’t start something if you can’t commit to it, otherwise what started out as a great way to increase your exposure and build integrity will do the opposite and make you look worse for having tried.  Consider asking a marketing consultant to help keep you on task with a social media plan. At Creativeworks we not only develop social media plans, we are happy to take the lead in writing and posting your tweets, updates and blogs.

Was this blog helpful?  Do you have any questions I can help you with?  Please share your questions or stories of how you are using Twitter or blogging in your professional career.

Is Social Media Really Right for your Small Business?

Social networking is helping mid to small businesses grow by increasing their brand awareness and ultimately improving their revenues.  Social media is right for your business.

Here’s what the stats say:

  • 63% of mid to small businesses reported that social networking drove their sales and increased revenue (source: businessinsider.com)
  • 40% of the 63% said social networking made a “significant’ impact on their sales and revenue (source: businessinsider.com)
  • 50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn. (source: frescosocial.com)
  • Most small businesses spend between 25% – 50% of their ad budget on social networking (source: HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Report 2011)
  • 53% of small businesses are currently using or will soon use social networking sites from their mobile device (source: businessinsider.com)

Here are a few tips to help you start connecting with your customers using this exciting media:

Tip 1
Make a minimum commitment of a year to social media.  It takes a while to see results from social networking, particularly if you are selling services vs. products.  So give it some time and be persistent and patient.

Tip 2
Establish your social media goals. Be clear about what you hope to achieve by engaging in active social networking. Make sure these are realistic goals.  In other words, don’t expect a 25% increase in revenue in the first week!

Tip 3
Develop a social media strategy and seek help if you don’t know where to start. Like all other marketing efforts, your social media must also have a strategy.  The plan should include the 5 “W”s, including which platforms, frequency of posts, resources and responsibilities.

Tip 4
Appoint a social media person to be accountable for either writing the content or flagging internal stories or news items as possible posts. This can be an internal person or an external resource who understands your brand, your goals and the tone of your company.  This social media resource will be held responsible for driving continuous and accurate content to your sites as well as engaging in conversations and investigating new avenues within social media platforms to get your voice heard.

Tip 5
Track and measure your social media sites. Just tracking the “likes” and “followers” is not enough.  Every social media platform offers some analytics; make sure you are getting regular and in-depth information on each site and have a resource that can help you decipher the results.

Let the stats and my tips guide you as you begin your journey with one of the most cost-effective and useful forms of advertising that exists today.