One reason to do so: traditional print media have been shrinking in size, both the number of reporters and the size of their issues. That means the competition to get an article about your organization is tougher than ever, and that there's less space for that article about you.
Second, today's reporters have to file more stories -- plus they also use social media to cross-promote their articles. For example, we know that local TV reporters are pressed by their bosses to continue to post content across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; not sure if they got bonuses or not but their bosses are well aware if their numbers decrease. And a freelancer we spoke to this week said that she got turned down for an assignment because she doesn't have enough Twitter followers.
Given that, we tell reluctant clients that if reporters, who have an outlet to communicate stories, are also expected to use social media to drive traffic to their website, the same goes to them too.
So here are some basic thoughts on why and how reluctant organizations should engage via social media.
- Social media and blogs are a great way to establish a brand, a corporate personality and values, which are increasingly important, whether the company is a B2B or a B2C. Customers, whether they’re business or consumers, want to know who they’re buying from, so having a different voice – one that could be informal and snarky on social media while the blog is formal and stodgy, may confuse customers, partners and employees. That said, we had a client with two divisions, one that marketed to small businesses and the other that marketed to large companies; in that case, we recommended they developed a distinct voice and different communication vehicles since the two customer segments had different needs and resources.
- It's important to understand that each platform has a different set of characteristics, how people interact, what they respond to. One way to start is to focus on one of social media platforms, and get comfortable interacting and engaging on that platform before launching on another platform. Keep in mind that over time, those features evolve, so it’s important to understand how users interact with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Many larger companies have create a consistent voice by creating a style guide offering suggestions regarding word choice, tone, style, and artwork, is a valuable tool. Style guides are used to ensure there’s a consistent voice across marketing, such as email newsletters, brochures, and ads but they should also be used to establish or maintain a consistent voice across social media and blogs. New hires responsible for social media and blogs need to review the style guides to get up to speed quickly about the brand, and style guides need to be reviewed after a significant change (like an acquisition) or every year or so to ensure the company is keeping up with social media changes.,
Keep in mind that you may need to have different Twitter accounts to reach different audiences. You may want one for customer service, another for HR, and another for the main brand, to highlight key milestones, new product or service news, etc. Further, HR might use LinkedIn for recruiting and Facebook groups for communicating to current employees or former employees in so-called alumni groups. Twitter or LinkedIn could be ideal for thought leadership campaigns aimed at customers. In each case, the choice of voice, subject matter and style may be different. The company may still want to keep the tone consistent, and still should use a shared calendar so that each group knows what the other will be posting.
We have helped a range of clients to get involved in social media, including small businesses and technically oriented B2Bs (that otherwise felt their customers wouldn't seek advice and insight or make purchase decisions via social media). For one, a biotech client, we increased traffic to its site by 95%. For another client, a financial software developer that was a small division in a large global company, the work we conducted on social media, including a blog, got the attention of global marketing, and our client get recognized for its cutting-edge social media content. That company's social media work also enabled it to leverage and highlight customer case studies that led to more new business opportunities.
If you have questions about how to engage in social media, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.