Social Media: You Know Your Business Needs To Do It - But How?

Anna Ritchie : Community Maven
Anna Ritchie
Marketing & communications practitioner, and product manager for TMCnet. Focus on content marketing and social media with a specialty in Online Community-building for businesses. Follow @Connectincloud and @apritchie
| Expertise and Advice on Successful Online Communities

Social Media: You Know Your Business Needs To Do It - But How?

I love Facebook.  I like knowing what my friends are doing, getting reminders from my favorite bands about upcoming concert dates, and reading the latest gossip.

But using Facebook for the marketing of my company’s products is a whole different ballgame, especially when measurement and quantitative analysis are so necessary but so seemingly elusive through social sites. Still, we need to do it. Companies need to do it. Why? Because we need to be where our customers are, and recent research has shown that “over 90% of B2B buyers are using social media to research and execute purchases.”

Since buyers are not only going online, but going to social sites, to make purchasing decisions, companies are starting to realize that they need to focus on and hone their social media strategy. With all the articles, books and research out there on how companies can use social media to make money, it can be hard to know what works, what doesn’t, and how to measure your efforts.  Here are 5 things I’ve seen working well:

1)      Giving out Promo Codes to people who “like” or connect with you online

2)      Giving out exclusive information (like a new feature or product), first.

3)      Being a little bit edgy without losing your company brand. Too many times, I’ll see a company really distance themselves from what’s made them recognizable and trustworthy on their social site. A brand takes time to build, and starting from scratch really isn’t necessary- so consistency and brand-recognition has to be a top focus.

4)      Integrating varying initiatives: There’s no use signing in to each account and re-posting each and every blog, article, and update you want to make. This can be daunting- and who knows if it’s even worth your time? There are great ways to get your twitter feeds, Facebook friends, LinkedIn groups and more on an Online Community, or by connecting them on a section in your company website. Believe me, this makes it easier for your audience, too.

5)      Measuring what matters: Measuring social media is tough- because what really constitutes success? For brand recognition, number of followers is a pretty reliable gauge, but for sales efforts it’s a little trickier and means carefully following click-throughs, identifying and ranking leads, and other measures.

My recent endeavor has been to attend the social ROI and strategy sessions at my conferences this year, which is why I was excited to learn that there’s a dedicated conference just for corporate social media: The Corporate Social Media Summit on June 21-22, 2011 in NYC. Although I’d never heard of the company who runs it (Useful Social Media) before, I was really surprised to see the list of speakers lined up for this event like CocaCola, Kodak, Dell, Best Buy, Marriott, PepsiCo, Pfizer, HP, Citi, Whole Foods and more.  Impressive.

The top thing I look forward to learning is how to use social media for customer retention and interaction. As a product manager, this is huge- because while everyone talks about using social media to get business, not many people talk about using it to keep your customers.  I’m interested to see what other companies are doing, and how well their efforts are working.

For additional research, I just downloaded the “State of Corporate Social Media in 2011” report- which you can find here for free.  Stay tuned for later blogs after I get into the report.
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