Clients regularly ask us whether they should be using Social Media more widely in their marketing and, if so, which social media? There are many companies promoting one Social Media platform or another as the ‘must have‘ marketing tool and while you can’t deny this in principle, you need to be thinking in terms of your customers and your markets.
To kick off, let’s take Facebook. I don’t know about you but I use Facebook. I’m not logged on all day, everyday but I do find it useful to keep in touch with friends and family across the world and to see what people have been up to. It is also a great tool to follow developments and engage in discussions around hobbies and interests. But my FB engagement does not cross into my work. If I am thinking Home/Leisure (i.e. I am wearing my Home Hat) I have engagement with FB – and if a business wants to engage with me while I am wearing my Home Hat, then so be it – so long as I find what they want to say interesting and relevant! On the other hand, if I am at Work or even just thinking Work (i.e. I’m wearing my Work Hat) then Facebook is not for me. It is too chatty and inconsequential. When work suppliers and contacts try to engage on Facebook it has a negative effect on my relationship with them – and often I just don’t get involved! I see Facebook as a social tool and, in my experience, so do the other people I know who use it.
Conversely LinkedIn is squarely targeted at Work Hat. To date it has been seen primarily as a tool for people looking for a new job – or people looking to check out the background of people they are considering employing! So does it have any real mileage for marketing engagement and relationship development? I believe it does, particularly if you are targeting niche/specific sectors. On an individual basis it can be a great way of getting introductions to key people. If you know A and A knows B and B is a key decision maker in your target market, then often A will be happy to introduce you to B. It’s like asking for referrals but you have more control and influence! This approach must be used carefully and professionally but it can be extremely effective in the field of Work Hat. Another interesting LinkedIn development over the past year or two is the growth in popularity of LinkedIn Groups. These are where people with a common business interest can post articles, ideas, questions etc. and invite response from other group members. Normally LinkedIn groups are NOT sales channels and overt or regular sales pitches are frowned upon. This said, if you use groups creatively and always remember the importance of interest and relevance, you can effectively build your standing and influence in a field. This can take time but persistence will often pay real Work Hat dividends.
So where does Twitter fit in all of this? From a business marketing point of view, I don’t believe it is practical to communicate solely using Twitter. It’s role is more as connective tissue to effectively link and promote content on your Website/Blog/Facebook/LinkedIn etc. Keen tweeters will say that you need to tweet regularly (up to 10-15 time PER DAY!) for Twitter to be effective. This can be off-putting to most businesses – and I don’t believe it is true! What is important is that (bit of a theme here!) You aim to keep tweets interesting and relevant. At BSA (@bsamarketing), we tweet 6-8 times per week on average and while we don’t have the followers of Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, our follower list is full of relevant contacts and is growing steadily.
Other Social Media
There are many other social media tools out there, each one aiming to be the new Facebook or LinkedIn. In deciding whether to use them, my advice is to use your common sense. The ideas I discuss in this article can be equally applied and we are still talking about people and their personal motivations. Just remember…. Engaging with your contacts when they are wearing the wrong hat may have undesireable consequences