Social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter continue to be all the rage. Many companies are taking advantage of the immense popularity of these sites and their sheer numbers of users for their own business purposes.
Smart Business spoke to Andrew Katz, director of Digital Presence for BlueWave Computing LLC, about how businesses are leveraging social platforms to increase market share, enhance existing relationships, and generate newfound profits.
Why social media for business?
Social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are a phenomenal way to get your business more visible and successful by making a ‘face’ for your business or brand online. Companies that leverage social media today are seeing a real impact — if proper staging and execution is in place. Social media for business is not just about selling more and increasing the bottom line. Smart companies today realize that social media helps move the needle in all facets of a business: research and intelligence gathering, recruiting and community building.
We hear executives say, ‘My kid in college uses Facebook, I see no value from a business perspective.’ What would your response be to these executives?
It is important for today’s executives to have an open mind and embrace new mediums. If not, they will be the next new paid subscriber on theladders.com ($100,00-plus job search site). Executives deal with numbers on a daily basis — let’s take a deep dive into Facebook’s numbers. Facebook is now the largest social networking site, with more than 500 million active users, long ago surpassing former social networking giant MySpace. And indicators show that Facebook continues to grow at one million new users a week. Considering these numbers, if you are an executive, you have to ask yourself: Is my target market there?
What are the three most important factors in running successful social media campaigns?
Content is king, bar none. It can’t just always be posting videos on Facebook and retweeting articles on Twitter. You have to be very creative and think outside the box. The main facet of a strong social media campaign is compelling and creative content. Content is what creates and fosters intimate relationships, and the more intimate relationships you have the more likely you will be able to generate strong ROI over time.
Next would be responding to your fans across all platforms. We see too many instances where companies don’t respond to fan comments or tweets. Spend a good part of your time responding to @’s on Twitter, messages, wall post, etc. Make certain you also respond to negative chatter.
Third would depend on the size of the business. If you are a smaller organization and are working with limited funds and resources, don’t try to master each platform at once. Pick one and get that platform up and running before you move to the next.
If you are a large company you need to have a well-defined social media policy in place. Setting up proper systems and procedures on the front end is key and will reduce procedural pains. Another thought would also be to set up an employee social media committee. This will help get your employees excited about the new initiative and get everyone in sync.
Is social media measurable?
At most of the events I’ve been to lately, measurement continues to be a hot and heavily debated topic. It truly depends on what you are trying to measure. For instance, you can easily measure new numbers of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn connections and YouTube views. When looking at this big picture — ROI — it’s not important how many names we collect, but rather how many we engage and build relationships with, and become our brand ambassadors. That’s what truly matters to the bottom line, and this is harder to measure. However, each week new and robust social measurement technologies make it to the market and we will soon see these technologies closing the measurement gap and better tie in social media investment to ROI.
If a company chooses to outsource its social media marketing and management how does it select the right partner?
When Google AdWords first launched and a plethora of pay-per-click ‘experts’ popped up across the Internet, many companies failed to see the return on investment they had expected. To make the most of your social media marketing dollars it’s important to perform due diligence before investing. You can even use the social platforms discussed above to find the real thought leaders in the space that can help your business move forward. Make certain you ask for references and not only call them but also get online and check out their digital presence. Finally, I have come across many social media providers that do not have the best digital presence; this does not mean they don’t know what they are doing. With the rapid growth in this sector they may just be too busy working for their clients and haven’t had ample time to work on their own social initiatives. That is why it is critical to put more emphasis on the references, versus the company pitching you.
What’s on the horizon?
Great question. When I think of ‘social’ I think of anything that is easy to share with others. There is a new paradigm called flash commerce. Flash commerce or group buying is easily shareable. There are sites such as Groupon, Scoutmob and LivingSocial. Most of these companies today are geared toward retailers, however, on the horizon I think we will see some emerge for the B2B sector. Businesses that see themselves as trendsetters and leverage flash commerce (or group buying) into their overall marketing mix, in my opinion, will have a distinct competitive advantage over their competition.