Monday, August 1, 2011

Friend, Follower or Linked?

Like it or not, social media is now an essential part of your brand's online identity. A few years ago, adding social media to your company's marketing tool box was as simple as creating a Facebook page.

Do I really need Social Media?

The short answer is: yes. Admittedly we are biased but our experience has proven how social media can positively impact a customer's brand.

Why do I need Social Media?

If your idea of Twitter is countless status updates ranging from your followers sitting on the patio to ordering a double mocha latte while checking-in at the local coffee shop - you aren't alone. Businesses who dismiss sa well thought out marketing plan that incorporates social media and tools such as QR codes (when and where their use is appropriate) quite simply is missing potential sales.

Today's consumers are actively engaged in all aspects of social media, taking part in conversations about everything and anything. These tech savvy people are tethered, if not addicted, to their mobile devices connecting with others who share similar interests: chances are someone is having a conversation about your company.

Are you listening?

Having a presence on social media allows you to join in these conversations. By taking part in these conversations you will be able see what the sentiment is toward your brand - and monitor whether the talk is in a positive or negative light.

Follower, Friend or Linked?

Not all companies will need to have a presence in all social media platforms. The main players in the social network are:

Facebook. One of the better known and most widely accepted network; Facebook is usually a companies first foray into social media waters. Facebook provides a place for organizations and companies to share their brand through status updates, photo albums, conducting polls and "hosting" events that are relevant to your brand. 

Twitter. While Facebook offers a platform for multiple people to manage a presence, Twitter offers a more personal presence with a direct one-on-one conversation with your customers. Customers provide feedback and engage in conversations through succinct 140 character messages. 

LinkedIn. This platform is especially relevant for creating a corporate presence and creating a platform for professionals to network and learn about your company. LinkedIn has had success displaying current vacancies to people who may be interested in filling this positions within your organization.

FourSquare. This platform is relevant for organizations with at least one "bricks and mortar" store. Foursquare is best utilized by providing discounts to users when they identify that they are at your location by clicking on a "check-in." Returning customers who check-in can earn Mayorships, badges and other rewards.

It should go without saying that your website and blog page should share a commonality in design and writing style. Today's consumer has become accustomed to receiving their information in real time; they aren't satisfied to wait while a newsletter is published and a web page updated. Your company web page should be the repository of resident information while your blog is where you regularly share inform and detailed information not suited for Facebook and other social media platforms. Your company or organization should be using Facebook and Twitter to direct friends and followers to your blog and web sites.

OK, I'm sold but who is going to manage my companies social media?

There is no hard and fast answer to this question but it should be someone that is genuinely interested in social networks and enjoys  spending the time needed to help your company build and maintain a social media presence. 

What is just as important is the company providing that person, or team, with information and resources needed to create meaningful conversations and content.