[This article originally appeared in IoD Suffolk magazine]
What social networks should we use?
Your business type will have a big influence on which social networks you need to consider. To have the maximum impact for a minimal amount of time you need to focus specifically on the social networks that make sense for your business.
Facebook is used by a wide variety of people but we have found that most success on this platform has come from companies trying to speak directly to consumers – this includes firms selling products to consumers such as wood flooring and designer handbags, as well as services, such as a beauty salon. Any product or service that invokes emotion can use Facebook successfully, as users respond best to posts they feel attached to.
LinkedIn, by contrast, is mostly focused on recruitment and business-to-business. If your offerings are intended for other businesses, such as conflict resolution training, then LinkedIn could be a valuable asset as you connect to other leaders and spread the word about your services. LinkedIn is also an effective tool for raising your professional profile within your contacts network. Through LinkedIn company pages, it is possible to keep abreast of the activities of clients, competitors and suppliers.
Pinterest is useful if your products or services for sale are image-based, such as a boutique clothing shop or a garden landscaping company. If your website has e-commerce functionality then sharing pictures of your products on Pinterest can boost sales if many people like the look of it and‘re-pin’ it.
Twitter can be useful for all businesses, whether you are posting links to your own news stories on your blog, or simply highlighting industry news and your opinions. Many companies use Twitter as a way of giving quick replies to questions, whether general sales enquiries or support questions, rather than long-winded emails. Twitter is also a great way to follow potential clients and influencers in your market.
Google+ is a newcomer to the social media landscape, but it should not be overlooked. It functions as a hybrid of many of the more traditional social networks and is hoping to better them all. You may find less engagement on this site during these formative years, but you could gain a useful following. It is good to remember that Google will use your activity on Google+ as a tool to modify your search engine rankings. It is, therefore, set to become even more essential in SEO initiatives to improve search engine results for your business.
Blogs have become a vital part of a company’s online presence because of the impact they have on search engine rankings and your online profile. Whichever social networks you choose to participate in, your company blog should be at the centre of your social media strategy. All blog postings, whether brief or longer editorial articles, should be linked from your social media accounts with a comment that inspires readers to go and have a look – driving them back to the main site.
Connecting to other users …
There is no point creating social media content if there is nobody to read it – connecting to others is a prerequisite. Start by finding out what social media networks your existing business contacts are using and ‘follow’ them. You can also send out an email newsletter to inform customers that you have joined the sites and ask them to follow you, perhaps with a special offer or competition if they do.
Once you are following existing business contacts and customers, you will find some of them follow you back, thus starting a dialogue. You may consider following your competitors – and perhaps their followers – as well.
Now that you have chosen the networks you want to use, signed up to them and connected with users,you have started a process that will need monitoring and continuous improvement to get the very best from your investment in time and effort. This will be discussed in the next issue when we will look at content, setting targets and developing a social media policy for your company.
Rubious are a web design and marketing agency in Ipswich.