Understanding Social Media

Feb 19, 2015

In 2012, Stanford found that less than 60% of North American companies use social media to interact with customers, and even less to advertise or to research a customer base. More than 75% of CEOs weren’t tracking or receiving summaries of their own corporate social media accounts. Some CEOs didn’t even appear on their company’s website.

Fast forward to 2015: the year of the social CEO.The rate of executive social engagement rose 120% in three years. Executives are now creating social bios, appearing in casual corporate YouTube videos, and even applying for top positions on Twitter. Executives are getting more social - and fast.

You know you need a social media presence. But where to start - and what to use? Here’s the quick and dirty on different social mediums and what they can do for you.

Facebook

Who’s on it:

Basically, everybody. Facebook has more older adults, college grads, high-earners and daily users than any other networking site. Ever.

How are they using it:

62% of Facebook users visit once a day, and three-quarters of those visit multiple times a day. That’s a lot. But Facebook has lower engagement rates and more corporate accounts than any other social site too.

So do I need it?

Yes. Absolutely. Corporate Facebook pages rank highly in online search results - often right under your website. It’s the biggest online business marketplace that everyone in your audience accesses (probably).

Strategy:

Facebook should be your company’s social media catch-all. You’ll need regular content, a venue for interaction (reviews! polls!), and an active system for engaging with your followers.

Twitter

Who’s on it:

One-fifth of all adults who use the internet are on Twitter - a number that’s held steady since 2012. It’s also slightly more popular among women than men.

How are they using it:

Half of users visit daily, and a third check their feeds multiple times a day. Users are particularly active during events for commentary and live updates. Tweets are shorter (by necessity) and more casual (by convention) than other social mediums.

So do I need it?

Yes. Twitter’s real-time, breakneck pace is best for immediate feedback, direct customer interaction and especially damage control. You absolutely can’t be the last one to find out that something’s gone wrong on your watch.

Strategy:

Twitter’s necessary for direct, casual interaction with your followers, but it’s also a great venue for good humour - a well-executed Twitter campaign can give a brand personality better than any other network.

LinkedIn

Who’s on it:

LinkedIn is the highest and second-highest in high-income and college-educated users. Men (24%) use the site more than women (19%). The site markets itself as “professional” social media.

How are they using it:

Half of users say they visit the site less than once a week, but thirty percent visit daily. It’s often used as a resume-sharing app rather than a networking site, but companies can establish a clean, professional presence pretty easily.

So do I need it?

Probably. It’s like having a business card - necessary, valuable, but you don’t have to update it too often.

Strategy:

Make a clean, detailed profile and check it once in a while.

CRM Applications

What it is:

Client Relationship Management apps organize and streamline almost every customer interaction your business has. It can open up opportunities within the network you didn’t know you had (and help you realize them). Netsuite and SalesForce are some of the biggies, but there are dozens of systems that have the same - or similar - functions.

What it does:

Recent studies show that companies using and integrating CRM software can increase their sales by almost 30%. You can accurately track client information, follow unrealized sales leads, and keep all of your lists within the company.

So do I need it?

Only if you use it - which you should. You need to find the software that’s right for your business, and also really work on implementing it. Many companies pay through the nose for a CRM application that they don’t use, and don’t get use from.

Strategy:

Thoroughly integrate your CRM application into all levels of your company. Set up an infrastructure for teaching and troubleshooting problems that are found - or arise - through your CRM. Assign an admin, create and review summary reports and use the information to build a better business.

Blogs/Video Blogs

What they are:

Blogs and video blogs (vlogs) are regular, scheduled content vehicles that ensure your brand stays on top of search engine results and cultivates a solid, definitive brand presence.

How they’re being used:

Personalities, companies, and brands create regular posts that combine into an online archive of content that users can peruse. Content is audience-driven, such as tips, how-tos and specific, valuable information that readers/viewers want.

So do I need it?

Probably, but not for the reasons you might think. Personality-driven and smaller businesses can really thrive using vlogs and blogs, but changes to Google’s search algorithm has made regular, updated content one of the the most important factors for landing on the first page of web searches.

Strategy:

Design a tight and clean brand presence and use a team to create regular content. Blogs need to be fresh, useful, and well-maintained to really establish your brand and generate views. Mobile-optimized sites and longer content pieces are favoured by search engines, so a blog can help drive eyes to your business.

Social Listening Software

What it is:

Social listening is software that helps you see - and manage - what people are saying about your brand on social media. Google Alerts, Hootsuite, and Klout are some of the big ones, but there are tons of different apps for different price ranges.

How to use it:

Social listening apps trawl through the ridiculous amount of raw data created by social media users and media outlets so you can be much more effective in online conversations. Even if your brand isn’t directly tagged or mentioned, organized analytics can show you how your brand is perceived, which can help you troubleshoot and respond faster.

So do I need it?

Only if you want to know what people are saying about you on the internet. And what people are saying about your competitors. And your products. And pretty much anything else.

Strategy:

First, make sure you have relevant social media accounts - at least Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn - and use some software to organize those accounts. The infinitely customizable nature of social listening means you can use it to find out what you want, and use that information however you please - so set some goals, track your business, and improve your customer relationships.

Email Blasts

What they are:

Email blasts are like cold calls from telemarketers at dinnertime (but on the internet). Email marketing is a system of well-crafted and informative newsletters about your organization emailed with purpose to people who’ve asked for it.

How to use it:

Emails can feature blog posts, information about sales, online coupons/offers, casual updates, and more - really, it’s up to you. But it can be tricky to have good-quality, valuable content sent to people who want it and actually have them read it.

So do I need it?

Bad email marketing can really cost you - a small Quebecois company was slammed with a $1.1 million fine for sending messages without an “unsubscribe” function in March of this year. But if you can put in the time for a quality campaign, it can be a rewarding tool.

Strategy:

To really succeed with an email blast, you need a single, specific goal (think click-throughs, brand recognition, lead generation) and a clear idea of who your audience is. Use that to tailor direct copy, a call-to-action and interesting or valuable content for your recipients.

 

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