Top 10 questions about Social Media for Business

Apr 3, 2011   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Many businesses rush into social media, simply because they can and because it’s “free”. This article outlines 10 questions you should answer for your business when evaluating your social media strategy.

Getting social with Wexford Management Forum

It was a pleasure to meet a huge range of Wexford entrepreneurs at last night’s seminarwhich I delivered on behalf of Wexford Management Forum.
The content of the seminar will form the basis for several future blog posts, both here and on other blogs that I write for. If you would like to find out more about this topic, please find connection options at the bottom of this article.
This blog post will deal with social media for business, (see top ten questions below), and covers some of the comments and questions from attendees at the seminar. The full presentation from last night’s seminar “Getting the most from the internet for your business” is below, and is also available on SlideShare.
Getting the most from the internet for your business

Social Media for Business – Top 10 Questions

There are many social media forums, and not all of them will be right for every business. Indeed, social media may not be a good fit for your business at all. It all depends on what kind of business you are and the profile of your customers or clients. Here are the top ten questions for a business to consider when developing or reviewing their social media strategy.
1. How do I sell? Remember, it’s social, not sales. Social media platforms are not the place for hard sell. It’s about developing relationships with customers and perhaps even with suppliers, competitors or industry influencers –  journalists or bloggers for example. You need to play a long game on social media, it’s not about quick wins.
2. What can I learn? Social media can be used to keep abreast of developments in your industry. Twitter is excellent for that and you can keep up to date with industry trends from around the world by using twitter.
3. How do I connect with customers? If one of your objectives is to build relationships with customers or clients, your social media efforts need to be directed to where your customers or clients also are. For example YouTube can be a great forum for training companies, where they can upload short videos which demonstrate their expertise. YouTube is in fact the second largest search engine in the world, and is widely used by people for “how to” searches. In the tourism industry, where your customers are end-consumers and where repeat business and word-of-mouth is very important, Facebook can be a good way of keeping “top of mind” with your customers. When developing a social media strategy, you need to ask yourself what is the profile of my customers and where are they likely to be found online?
4. Who’s talking now? Whether or not your business is online, many of your customers are online and you should monitor what, if anything, has been said about your business. There are some monitoring tools suggested in the presentation, see SlideShare above.
5. Who’s controlling this anyway? You can’t control what your customers say about you, but you can control your response. If you remain silent online, you have lost control of your brand. See “How to handle a negative brand mention”.
6. Who owns your social media account?  You don’t own any social media platform, and consequently don’t have full control of your account there. It’s important to remember that Facebook owns Facebook and twitter owns twitter. They can change their terms and conditions at any time and indeed they frequently do. If all your eggs are in one online basket, you are therefore very vulnerable to changes in terms of use. Having your own domain name is the strongest kind of online presence, and a well designed and optimised website should give you a tangible return on investment. Performing well in relevant searches for your website is one of the best returns on investment you can make in the online world. Social media should only be part of your online strategy, not all of it. However, if your resources are limited, and you make the effort with social media, being online as a “social squatter” is better than not being online at all.
7. What will I talk about? Whatever your industry, you should aim to make yourself a hub of interesting information for your niche, and you should be supportive of other businesses and of your customers. If you talk about yourself all the time, you will in fact just be boring company online, and at best you will be ignored. Many businesses unintentionally make their social media presence ”all about me”  by only ever promoting their own product or services. Social media is not the back page of the Irish Times. It’s a more subtle form of communication, and if you provide valuable assistance to others, then you stand a better chance of being listened to. As a rule of thumb, no more than 10% of your social media communications should be about your business.
8. What about my employees?  You should have a social media policy for your company that all employees are made aware of, to cover the who, what, when, where and why of posting online. However social media policy alone is not enough if you have employees. You should be aware that as an employer, you could be deemed to have a vicarious liability if one of your employees causes damage to another in the course of their work. There is tremendous scope for employees to cause damage to others via email, social media and other forms of online communication. If the damage is caused in the course of their duties as an employee, you can be held liable as an employer. Therefore, you should also have a written information technology usage policy. For more on this topic, read “ Employers beware the perils of not-so-social networking” by the Cork firm of solicitors, McCarthy & Co.
9. Doesn’t it take a lot of time?  Probably, the truth is, yes. It can take a lot of time to get to grips with social media, to understand what it is and how to use it. That is why it is important to educate yourself about the different social media platforms and the demographic of the users before you enter the social media arena. You can then make an informed decision as to the appropriateness of social media for your business, and what, if any, is the right forum for you. You need to have a strategy, before you jump in. As Google’s Matt Cutts once tweeted: “ if you have five minutes to spare, twitter is a great way to spend half an hour.”
10.  Where do I start?  Educate yourself. Go to a seminar or course about social media and search for and read blogs on the topic. To get you started, this blog has “Twitter for beginners”, “Setting up your Facebook Business Page” and “Managing and Marketing your Facebook Business Page.” Social media is not technically difficult, and a little knowledge goes a long way. And you do need to know what to do and how to do it before you start. For example, it’s against the terms and conditions of Facebook to use a personal profile for a business. Don’t do it! If you do so, you risk having your page removed by Facebook.

Social Media in Ireland

This is an excellent video, produced by Edelman, on the usage of Social Media in Ireland.

 

What have I left out? Please let us know in the comments below!

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