Monday, June 2, 2014

Digital Direction – Are you Creating or Eliminating “Social Media Nods”

You might think Millennials are the only ones who share just about everything online, regardless of the consequences. However, the business community shouldn’t be so quick to judge the younger generation’s stream of consciousness and culture of “over-sharing.” Numerous B2B and B2C companies take this same “over-sharing” approach when it comes to their own social media pages, which can hinder social media growth.

Leah Ekmark Williams, APR

Social media’s two-way, interactive communication channel has created an effective way for brands and businesses to talk “with” their audience instead of “at” them. While this online conversation and transparency breeds a high level of trust from your customers and clients – and if you’re lucky, brand loyalty – ask yourself this: How much is too much? Do people classify your organization as a social media “over-sharer?”

Business owners continually ask: “What quantifies social media success?” In a Lunch and Learn session I recently led for the Greater East Dallas Chamber, I answered this exact question. I spoke to attendees about creating effective social media and public relations campaigns, and integrating these two segments within their business’ “marketing toolbox.” The answer to social media success and growth is this – be strategic and don’t over-share messages on the wrong platform! Don’t create an Instagram account or Pinterest page just because your competitor has one. Identify your goals, do your research and know what social platform is best for your message. The “over-sharing” mentality and number of posts per week is not a measure of success and does not lead to growth.

Having a successful page requires more than just knowing how to use social media – it requires knowing when and how to engage with a digital community. Do you know who your digital audience is? Do you know what platforms are best for delivering specific messages? Whether you’re trying to boost an executive’s thought leadership platform or trying to promote a new product launch, take time to research which platform is the right channel for you message. Here is a quick cheat sheet for you:

·         Facebook – This is an obvious platform for consumer brands. However, if you’re using this for B2B, it functions better as an internal communication tool with posts aimed at employee retention/recruitment messaging.
·         Twitter – This is a great tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can provide a quick snapshot of company news, trends a company is watching, and it enables brands to engage with influencers. It also is an easy way to interact with media and connect with them indirectly.
·         LinkedIn – This platform was made for B2B communication! Companies can amplify their messages by broadcasting external and internal announcements. It can also function as an extension of a thought leadership campaign.
·         Pinterest – The visual medium provides a great search engine for B2C companies and helps showcase new product launches. B2B companies should utilize it more for corporate culture messaging or recruitment.
·         Instagram – Yet another visual medium that is an obvious channel of choice for the B2C world.  However, B2B companies can use this tool as a way to promote and visually demonstrate corporate citizenship, which can often times be a hard-to-promote message using traditional communication channels. (Check out Oracle’s Instagram page if you want to see a B2B company that is doing it right!)
·         Vine – The perfect tool for B2C and B2B companies debuting new products, unique features or for creating a how-to video. But be warned, you only have six seconds, so be creative!

Once you have your social media audience and channel(s) identified, the other secret to fueling growth is integration. Companies leading the charge with robust communication programs take the time to coordinate and integrate social media, public relations, advertising, marketing and sales activities. The most successful companies align these business segments to ensure the same message is being communicated from each sector of its communication strategy, paid and non-paid, in print and online.

Social media has blurred the lines of PR, advertising and marketing, but one thing is for certain... “social media chatter” turns to “social media nods” when a company truly knows its audiences and integrates the appropriate pages into its marketing mix. 

 This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark Williams. @leahcpc


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