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It’s almost a no-brainer – companies that want to succeed need to exist on a social platform. 2010 has proven that being online isn’t only for risk-taking, out-there, young, hip, (etc. etc. etc.) companies. Being online is for everyone. Companies who don’t shift their way of thinking and accept that their clients are on these platforms, and that these clients are looking to interact with brands through these platforms, are in danger, and it’s not just us saying that. It’s proven. There’s data, there are millions of statistics, hundreds of case studies…  There’s plenty of back-up. And before we move forward- –we want to make one thing clear: we are not saying that your company or brand needs to exist on every single social media/networking site.  That would be ludicrous. Your brand needs to exist where your clients are. You need to have portals on the pages where your clients are most likely to be. For most brands, that will probably mean Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. But there’s no cookie-cutter answer – every brand is different, every brand needs to exist differently online – differently and intelligently.

“Being online is for everyone.”

There’s a lot of important information to know before venturing into social media, but I’m going to include a few that are key:

1. Setting up an account is not enough. Your brand needs to be active, needs to be engaging. There needs to be content in there that makes people want to engage with your brand. And that comes with knowing who your audience is.

You need to promote your online pages. Promote, promote, promote. You need to tell your clients and potential customers that these pages are out there for them. Some people will find them organically, but many will not. And the point of these pages is to build your community. If you have a website, it’s important to have links to your social media pages. Newsletters, store signs, commercials, videos, business cards, posters, email signatures–these are important places to promote your pages.

3. People are talking about your brand. The word-of-mouth is out there. And there’s software that can prove it; there are analytics that can let you know what is being said about your brand, if it’s positive or negative, where it’s being said, and countless other types of data. Facebook provides its own analytics, but there are plenty of other websites that provide analytics software for all kinds of social media efforts. Use these analytics to perfect your messages – to find the content that’s engaging on the platforms people want to engage on.

4. Social media pages are not made for companies to scream at their clients, they are not made for companies to solely broadcast messages. These pages are all about conversations- dialogues, not monologues. Companies need to know the importance of listening to their audience by responding to feedback and questions, by providing customer service, by asking for feedback, and by providing content that promotes community engagement. Scream at them and it’s doomed to fail.

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