Does your company have a social media presence? If your answer is no, stop reading this and read this article to understand why it’s important and how to begin building a social media profile. If you do have a presence, how well does your social media strategy deliver results? How have you defined success?
Whimsical tweeting and posting company updates and news to your profiles consumes your time and generally doesn’t yield much benefit. However, with a strategic approach to social media you can rise above the noise, find new prospects and influencers, engage them in meaningful conversation and one day call them customers.
Let’s start with what makes good conversation in social media, and on which networks. An effective social media strategy pinpoints where audiences are online and what they care about, so that you can join the discussion. The discussion is happening. You need to find it and then be part of it.
Now, let’s look at how other companies apply social media to their marketing efforts.
How Do High Growth Firms Use Social?
In a recent study, 500 CEOs, executives and marketers from professional services firms were asked to rate the effectiveness of social media as a part of their digital marketing strategy. The answers were compared between high growth and average growth firms in the figure below.
The results showed that the fastest growing companies found social media tools to be much more effective for marketing online than the average growth companies, and they were using social media more often. If you want to follow suit, take a similar approach.
A Breakdown of the Tools
Now that we know the benefits of social media, which social media tools are right for your social media strategy? In the same study, some of the most popular social media tools were ranked in order of effectiveness:
If these results seem surprising to you, let’s look at each social network and how it could benefit your firm. LinkedIn exists as a purely professional network. And while many people use it solely for networking, building a company profile and joining groups, discussions, and sharing content can have a major impact on your online marketing. Since people using LinkedIn are already thinking professionally, it is an effective place to market your services. Explore the many groups on LinkedIn – there are some for every industry.
Twitter comes in second place and is a great network to share content – both your own and external content – and to engage with your audience on a personal level. There are tools to help you find Twitter followers in your specialty (follow them, and most will follow you, too). Sure, some will be competitors, but many are also buyers in need of solutions.
Facebook and YouTube round out the most effective social media tools, largely because while the numbers of users are vast, they have less of a focus than LinkedIn and Twitter.
What Do the Experts Say?
In our research, experts in online marketing and social media were asked to rank the effectiveness of these social media networks as well. The results show that companies are not taking full advantage of the tools available online.
Not surprisingly, the experts rated LinkedIn and Twitter as the most effective, but they rated the networks’ effectiveness even higher than the high growth firms. There is even more to be leveraged from these networks than even some of the most successful marketers know.
The experts rated YouTube significantly more effective than high growth firms. Video is often an untapped, but effective component of online marketing. Taking a good look at how your firm is using video could produce great results.
Unexpectedly, the experts rated Facebook less effective than the high growth companies. Many are under the impression that Facebook provides more benefit for marketing online than it really does. While this is likely bad news for Facebook, it is important for firms to know so that they can focus their social efforts appropriately.
Social media isn’t just for personal use anymore. Your company’s target audiences are online and participating in social networking. And in order to drive growth and higher profitability, take a closer look at how your company is approaching social media to get the best results possible.