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When they think about social media, most businesses leaders just want to check it off their list. When asked why they are looking to get their company on social media, it is not uncommon to hear them respond with one of the following (Spoiler alert: these are all wrong reasons to invest resources into social channels):

  • Because it’s the hot thing right now
  • Because everybody’s doing it
  • Because my advisor/consultant told me it’s something we should do
  • Because my competitors are doing it
  • Because I don’t want to miss out

Then why should businesses even consider investing their attention, resources, and/or budget into social channels?

Below I’ve taken on some of the most frequently-asked questions by business leaders, and answered them in my usual non-conventional —yet absolutely sincere— manner.

1) Why do businesses need to embrace social media today?

Quite simply, because sales (yes, even B2B sales) begin with relationships, and social media grants businesses a way to accelerate valuable relationships.

This occurs mainly in two ways:

  1. By opening the opportunity to generate new connections, in a much more scalable manner than relying solely on face-to-face connections.
  2. By allowing leaders to nurture and deepen these relationships further, while their brand and leaders’ philosophy remains front and center to their communication.

2) Do you think social media marketing is a useful tool for attracting leads and providing customer service?

It can be a useful channel, provided the correct guidelines and procedures are set beforehand.

The way to attract leads via social media is more of an inbound nature than anything else. In other words, businesses are first active on the proper channels, and then they are able to open other avenues for these leads to reach out and connect further with the brand.

Social channels can be used for customer service, but I would recommend limiting the amount of interaction on social channels, particularly in B2B industries. The proper response to comments or criticisms on public social channels is to invite people to engage further within a private channel, such as chat, email, or even a phone line.

3) What advice can you share with business leaders on how they can better leverage social media?

The first and primary action to take is to deeply understand the reality of the business’ market, their offer, and their competitive landscape. This will help business leaders avoid appearing as if they are disconnected from the mindset of their intended audience, and on the contrary, they will show up as deeply connected to their desires and needs.

4) Many business leaders operate on a lean staff, so they can easily get overwhelmed with social media. What advice can you offer to help keep them on track and engaged?

My brief advice is this: Keep your channel selection to just one or two at the most, until you are able to maintain traction. It does not help to open profiles on all channels just to leave them abandoned.

After selecting these channels, agree with your team on a content schedule, both with regard to frequency as well as topics. Consistency will always be better than high frequency. In other words, it’s better to post some valuable content once a week, than to end up burned out just because you felt like your company needed to post something 3 times per day.

5) Is it necessary to have a dedicated social media manager on staff or would outsourcing this work be better?

Actually, neither approach is preferable. The absolute best approach is to empower your existing internal staff to share their ideas, struggles, experiences, and philosophies according to a set strategy.

Social media should not be seen as a function nor as a department, but rather as an additional means for key members of your team to utilize to expand your brand further.

6) What are some ways that a company can connect and interact with social media influencers?

There are two main channels that have worked for us. The first, quite obviously, is to engage with them right through social media. Assumedly, they are already quite active on these channels. Provided you reach out to them in a manner that builds the relationship (i.e, not absolutely weighed towards your own corporate interests), they will usually respond cordially.

The second means is via a private channel such as email. A company can pitch ideas, partnership opportunities, and other means to collaborate further. Once again, the pitch cannot ever be beneficial only to you and your company; there has to be something “in it” for them.

7) What social media management tools would you recommend?

Hootsuite seems like the most complete tool these days, but there are many others, and I would vary my recommendation depending on the goals and nature of the business.

8) What kind of impact does social media have on search rankings?

Theoretically, social shares form a very small percentage of search ranking factors. However, I would not recommend relying exclusively on social shares and impressions to produce a significant rise in search ranking.

9) How should companies audit their social media marketing initiatives?

The main way to audit your social media marketing actions is to measure whether it has produced the objectives you have sought out. If you have not set any objectives before investing into social media, then an audit is unnecessary: your investment in social media has already failed.

In business, be strategic about everything, set goals (and I mean business goals) and then determine online and offline actions that will help meet those goals.

10) How should a company or an individual select the different social media channels they should participate in?

By describing their audience with as much detail as possible, and then researching which channel this audience is mostly present and active in at this very moment.

Once again, for most businesses I would recommend starting with only one or two channels.

11) What would be the one message about social media that business leaders absolutely need to hear?

The main idea that I’d like people to understand, and the one idea that will prevent business leaders from making costly mistakes, is that social media is not a free advertising channel.

Social media can be a means to create and build relationships with specific audience members, by providing value to them before any monetary transaction occurs. However, there will always be an investment required; at the very least, the investment of attention from your internal staff.

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Any other questions you can think of? Feel free to post a comment, and I’ll do my best to respond.

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