“There’s no organisation, whether commercial, political or public, that can’t or shouldn’t use social media. If you’re not using social media in five years, you won’t get any new business”.
A bold statement from Gordon White to open his presentation, but it certainly grabbed attention.
Gordon, founder of FatBuzz, was speaking at the recent Social Networking for Business event where he shared top tips and case study examples to illustrate his point.
He explained that people use SM to check out others before they meet them, so they actually feel they know you even though they haven’t met you yet. That’s the power of SM.
Ultimately, if you’re not visible online, you’ll be excluded or could lose out on new business.
According to Gordon, the old way of marketing, advertising and PR is slowly going out of fashion. Merely paying for more advertising to get more exposure is no longer the way. It’s now all about investment in content and earning your space online.
Whether you are operating in a B2C or a B2B space, SM applies equally. Use it effectively to find people who want to do business with you and tailor your marketing to them.
Social media is ruled by content. Gordon warned that in future, advertising will be the price you pay for NOT building your relevant community online.
So how do you get started? Simply by asking ‘why’ and ‘what’ you want to achieve, then developing a strategy. You need to work out right at the start whether you’re trying to increase awareness, generate more sales, or drive more traffic to your website.
Said Gordon, doing it because everyone else is doing it, is not a good reason.
And he blew one of the biggest myths about SM right out of the water;
SM isn’t free – you need to invest a lot of time upfront in developing content and then keep delivering all the time. .
The biggest barrier to effectiveness of SM is that some companies block it in the workplace, believing it affects employee productivity. But Gordon disagrees, he believes all employees could become marketeers or ambassadors for your business, the responsibility for marketing no longer falls on just one person or one department.
And since SM is available on mobile phones anyway, is there really any point in blocking company network systems? Gordon suggests you look on SM as the new ‘tea break‘ – time to chill out, communicate with friends and having done so, be more productive during the rest of the day.
There’s always a worry about clients saying anything negative. But it’s better to have visibility and be seen as a company who deal with the problem, thus turning it into a positive, so don’t panic if you get a negative comment, look at it as an opportunity, but remember if it does becomes an issue, take it offline until its been resolved and then ensure you post the positive outcome online.
Most importantly, if you’re going to go down this route and allow employees access to social networking sites, it’s vital your company has a SM Policy.
It’s always better to introduce something through choice rather than being forced, so do the strategy, plan your implementation and engagement because in the future, SM won’t be a choice – potential employees (Generation Y) will be checking out employees online, including their websites and SM activity, before considering an interview.
Once you have worries about security and policy and strategy out of the way, the next question is what should you talk about?
Every company has lots to share. They simply don’t realise how much material or interesting information exists within their company. SM can be in the form of a tweet, a photo of a product or event within the company, a status update, a blog or advertising an event. It’s not necessarily about constantly generating new information. Look at what you’ve done or used in the past and how you can re-package and re-issue.
Watch what other companies and people are sharing online and learn from that, because that’s what they’re finding important or interesting.
And finally the most important question: what’s the ROI of SM?
It’s a question that’s asked often. But as Gordon asked, how often do companies validate their return on any form of marketing or business investment? The key here is to move more of the existing marketing budget to online, as opposed to increasing the overall budget.
SM has to compliment what you do offline. If you can’t afford or have the right resources in-house, then you can outsource.
Gordon’s final piece of advice?
Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want to read in the newspapers the next day.