Social media is clearly no longer a “fad,” and cannot be ignored by companies hoping to excel in the today’s world.
Nearly 400 women recently gathered for useful insights served up by social media trainers, Dr. Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard of Mindset Digital at the annual Key4Women Forum.
As Jasper says, “the handwriting is on the wall and it’s not handwriting anymore.”
While we no longer call it “new” media, it is still surprising when we see hard numbers illustrating how pervasive social media really is. Consider:
- Americans spend twenty-five percent of their time online using social networks and only eight percent of their time online using email.
- Between 100 and 200 hundred million active Twitter users send 200 million tweets a day.
- LinkedIn’s 62 million membership is nearly HALF the U.S. population working in non-farm positions.
Jasper and Hubbard say that today, the challenge isn’t getting your message OUT. It’s getting your message IN.
It’s tougher than ever to get busy clients and customers to tune into what you have to say. “That’s why this space truly is about connections, not commercials,” Hubbard says. Customers and clients want information to be presented in an engaging, conversational way. And if you’re listening, the interactive nature of social media will let you learn a great deal about what your audience wants and how they view your brand.
The owner of Anastasia Marie, a Vancouver-based stationery and design studio that specializes in custom papercut cards is one of the Key4Women clients who champions the use of social media. As an early adopter, Anastasia finds most of her customers through savvy social media use. She says brides find her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other networks; then email her to place orders because of what they have found online. “Social media allows us to be human beings, not just a business,” Anastasia says.
Another key point: Social media use is highly measurable.
Social media is both affordable AND measurable. “Like,” “fan,” “friend”…all of those action words have become tools you can use to monitor response and reaction. You can also track comments, retweets, and link sharing.
There is a huge difference between quality and quantity, though. Jasper says it may be more important for you to engage a smaller number of customers and clients than develop a large number of fans and follows who rarely interact with you.
It’s a ratings world
Social media is for every business, because we all need to build and strengthen relationships with customers and clients. This is what social media is all about — communicating with and engaging others.
As Hubbard points out, we are a nation of “skimmers and scanners,” and the Facebook world is changing everyone’s expectations. Customers expect companies to engage. They will tell their friends and colleagues about their experiences with your firm, both good and bad. Businesses that track those ratings and are part of that conversation will reap the benefits.
Important considerations for developing a social media strategy for your business:
Dr. Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard of Mindset Digital offer the following advice for businesses looking to integrate social media into their marketing strategy.
1. Be thoughtful about the social media space. Start with a particular channel, such as Twitter or Facebook, and focus on doing that well.
2. Create content that spurs conversations and fosters relationships.
3. Have a plan. You are creating a community, so know your audience, your message, and your approach to responding when customers and clients weigh in.
4. Think twice, post once. Everyone in your organization needs to understand that these channels are powerful and can have a lasting impact on your company’s reputation.
5. Consider getting the right training so you can better understand the latest technologies and are taking full advantage of hashtags, the backchannel, apps and other new tools.
6. If training isn’t in your budget, use the many books, websites and college training classes available to help prepare you for success.
7. Social media operates in a real-time environment, so your business needs to be prepared to respond in kind. That means responding quickly to complaints and compliments to enhance a relationship or avert a crisis. Monitor your key platforms and create “alerts” via Google.com or socialmention.com to ensure that you are part of the conversation.
About the author: Kelley Bloom is Vice President of Commercial Banking for KeyBank in Oregon and Southwest Washington and a Key4Women ambassador. Key4Women is a complimentary service for women in business, contact KeyBank for more information.