Using Social Media in your Business

Social Media in Your Business

(Originally Published in Western Sydney Business Access)

In a previous  article, we explored the growth of smart phones as a trend and tool for businesses. One of the main engines purporting growth of smartphones is Social Media applications, which is the focus of this article.

Social Media is mainly about content creation, sharing and open feedback. Many companies already use internal collaboration software based on Microsoft Sharepoint, but what about including clients, prospects, users, loyal customers and partners?

Social media for business

Some of the most common forms of social media include:

  • Blogs
  • Mini-Blogs like Twitter
  • Location based network services – Foursquare and Gowalla
  • Forums (usually a form of Wiki)
  • On-line podcasts and conferences
  • Wiki’s like Wikipedia
  • Video sharing like You Tube
  • Public communities – Facebook, LinkedIn

Many of the above are used to communicate with clients and potential clients but also to learn what others think about product or services. Some of the more recent changes that are recognizing the use of social media in business include:

  • Facebook profiles are now integrated into CRM solutions from Salesforce.com.
  • LinkedIn is directly plugged into email with Lotus Notes.
  • Twitter is starting to appear in all sorts of enterprise offering, such as support updates or special offerings.

Facebook has more than 700,000 business accounts and LinkedIn profiles are often used as CV hunting grounds – should your business jump into it?  According to Banner Corp a recent business-to-business Barometer study from Circle Research, the most common social networking channels companies are using are LinkedIn, Twitter and Blogging with more than 60% of businesses using LinkedIn. They go on to claim that the most effective use of social networking tend to be blogging, maintaining business profiles on social networks and creating podcasts.

In short, social networking is not for everyone and companies need to consider the demographics of their customers, prospects and suppliers/partners. The other huge consideration is to ensure you have policies in place to handle this infiltration into the company. Everything from time wasting office work to security concerns such as SPAM and malicious viruses needs to be thought through. With the right password policy and staff education program in place, the experience of diving into social media is likely to be successful.

SOCIAL NETWORKING BEST PRACTICES

The below are some generic marketing tips from a company named Nicholson Kovac.

YouTube®

  1. Reserve a YouTube.com URL.
  2. Choose relevant keyword friendly tags for videos to increase your search results.
  3. Brand and customize your YouTube channel by adding background images and choosing company colours.
  4. Get best quality by following YouTube’s video compression guidelines.
  5. Thank subscribers and respond to wall comments.
  6. Build up your library of content quickly. Repurpose video from traditional advertising (i.e. TV spots).
  7. Regularly monitor your insights on your YouTube channels.
  8. To increase your reach, look beyond YouTube and post your videos on other social video sites such as Vimeo.

FACEBOOK®

  1. Secure your own Facebook URL.
  2. Think carefully about who you “friend.”
  3. Select your privacy settings.
  4. Update regularly.
  5. Keep your friends organized using Facebook’s groups feature.
  6. Create fan pages and track your insights.
  7. Engage customers with polls or special fan promotions and giveaways.

LinkedIN®

  1. Reserve your custom LinkedIn URL.
  2. Fill out your profile completely.
  3. Have a compelling and search-friendly headline.
  4. Give and receive recommendations.
  5. Stay active.
  6. Connect with everyone.
  7. Import your other feeds (i.e.blog, Twitter, etc.).
  8. Become an industry thought leader by joining groups and answering people’s questions.

Twitter®

  1. Reserve your custom Twitter URL.
  2. Include a well-written bio.
  3. Make your page stand out with a custom background.
  4. Include your contact info and links to other social networks.
  5. Post regularly and retweet others’ posts if they are interesting and relevant to your audience.
  6. Listen and be prepared to respond to conversations. A good way to interact is to ask questions.
  7. If you want to get retweets, be relevant.
  8. Make sure your tweets provide some value for your audience. For example, post pictures, provide coupons or a behind-the-scenes view of your company.

In a future article, I will talk more about location based services.

References:

  1. Sophos Whitepaper, June 2010,:  Social Media in the Enterprise, great opportunities and great risks.
  2. Banner Corp. Whitepaper, More than Twitter, Social Media and the Tech Buyer 
  3. Nicholson Kovac Whitepaper; 2010,  Social Media 101.    

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