Posts Tagged ‘social network’
While more and more companies adopt social marketing strategies to lower costs and improve the quality of their outreach, even more companies are completely missing the opportunity. I read a want ad recently placed by a continuing care facility, and it motivated me to write the following response. The ad made no mention at all that candidates for the advertised position should be familiar with web sites let alone with social media. My response applies as well to nearly every business looking for a marketing specialist:
You have advertised a marketing position for a continuing care community. You’re looking for someone who is personable, creative, and flexible and who can represent your organization well. You ask for candidates having computer skills so they can produce advertising materials such as brochures, newsletters, and press releases. Wouldn’t you like to do better than that?
While traditional marketing approaches are still important, particularly for reaching a local audience, companies that are not developing on-line social marketing strategies are losing to their competitors. With 418 people joining Facebook every minute, people are getting to know companies through social networking before doing business with them. We’re quickly reaching a time when a company will not be effective at attracting customers if it doesn’t have a strong presence in online social media.
But, you object, people looking for continuing care facilities aren’t so computer-savvy; they’re not shopping on-line for a business like ours. This objection reflects your bias, but it doesn’t reflect reality. According to a recent Pew survey, the fastest-growing segment of Twitter users over a nine-month period was people aged 55 to 64. As you’re already aware, many aging Americans involve their offspring in making major life decisions… and those offspring rely increasingly on the Internet and their social networks for guidance.
From your ad, it seems as though on-line social marketing strategies are not in your thinking. That’s a shame. The continuing care facilities that hire social marketing strategists and get started on-line are going to thrive. Continuing care facilities who do not adopt social marketing strategies will struggle to understand why they can’t compete.
Best of luck!
In an earlier post on Social Marketing Strategies, I encouraged you not to use your company name as a screen name for an on-line persona marketing your company to prospective customers. The whole point of incorporating social networking into your marketing activity is for you to engage people in conversation. Presumably, other participants on the network are there also to have conversations.
If I’m looking for someone interesting to chat with, I’m much more likely to focus on human names than I am to focus on company names. When I want to find a company by its name or commercial interest, I’m most likely to launch a search on Google… not on a social networking site.
Register your Company Name
Register your company name as a screen name on whatever social networks you plan to employ in your social marketing strategies. If you’ve registered with a human name on a network to build your reputation, you should register with your company name on the same network. Use this on-line persona to represent your company to the network.
Your company screen name can, and should be a miniature version of your company’s marketing activity. Make product announcements, share how-to tips, explain product features, describe upcoming events, tell about events recently-passed, make promotional offers, offer discounts… in short: make this an account that appeals to your customers and enthusiasts. If you have a product or service that has a life of its own, serve its users with a screen name for that product or service.
Differentiate your Company’s on-line Personas
Your company name screen name is the go-to guy for information about your company. If I sign up to follow your company name, I’m probably a customer, a journalist, an industry analyst, or a competitor. I’m following so I’ll know what’s going on with your products and services. If you register a company name screen name and you fail to keep me informed, it will reflect badly on your company; your company’s continued participation through social media will become an important factor in customer satisfaction.
Your human persona, clearly identifiable as an employee of your company, is the accessible, savvy insider who actually talks with outsiders and builds a reputation as being knowledgeable and helpful. Do not use this screen name to spew company propaganda. Rather, use it to join and start conversations on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, Youtube, and so on.
This screen name talks with followers about their interests. If your company supplies products for equestrians, this screen name chats about horse training, horse birthing, horse shows, horse diseases, horse equipment, horse feeding, and anything else horse that comes up in conversation with horse-lovers. When the conversation goes into unfamiliar territory, this screen name learns along with its followers.
Your human screen name—without pushing—invites followers to check out the company. It shouldn’t volunteer product information except when answering questions… and then, it shouldn’t sell, it should only inform. This means making such statements as:
Liniment should help. Of course, I’m partial to Beacher Equestrians’ Feral Horse Balm http://www.beacherhorse.com/balm
My company, Beacher Equestrians, is sponsoring a giveaway at http://www.beacherhorse.com/giveaway
It’s even reasonable occasionally to suggest:
You can keep up on my company’s products and events by following @BeacherHorse on Twitter.
(I must point out: if you think the domain name and screen name BeacherHorse is good for business, seek out a marketing course at your local Small Business Development Center.)
One of the fundamental social marketing strategies is to create a persona by which the on-line community gets to know your company. You should plan to participate on many social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, YouTube, blogs, forums, bookmarking services (such as Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, and so on), and topic-specific social networks.
When you join these social networks, you establish a screen name for each of them. And, the more you participate on the networks, the more people get to know you by your screen name. If the point of participating is to let potential customers find you, then it’s a good idea to use the same screen name on every social network you join.
The 3 Biggest Screen Name Blunders
I’ve seen many screen names that instantly turn me away. I’ve seen at least as many that grab my attention. However, except in rare cases, the ones that are most successful leave me indifferent: I don’t care so much about your name as I care about what you have to say. Even the best screen name can get you in trouble if you abuse your on-line identity. Here are three common—and bad—screen name strategies:
1. Register with social media web sites and services using your company name.
This is a losing strategy simply because normal people don’t socialize with companies; they socialize with other people. When a company name follows me on Twitter, I expect the tweets from that user to be all about the company; I rarely bother to find out. When a person’s name follows me, I read the associated profile, 40 or so of the person’s recent tweets, and I even click through to the person’s web site if there’s one listed in the profile.
People representing your company should use their own names, but clearly broadcast their affiliation by including it in their profiles and by mentioning it openly when offering opinions during social discourse. It’s acceptable to register your company name as a user on a social network, but this should be as a rallying point for loyal customers; don’t expect prospects to flock to your company name and devour the message you feed through it.
2. Register a clever user-name that shouts your skill set or expertise at the world.
The screen names OnlineMarketingPro and AudiMasterMechanic are flashing neon lights that seem like fine marketing bling. However, such screen names may repulse a huge segment of your potential customers. If I’m not anxious about my Audi when I see your screen name, I’m likely to ignore you; I’m on a social network, not an experts-ready-to-pounce network. When I need one, I’m more likely to look for a mechanic in the yellow pages or in a local business directory. You’re better off registering your own name on the social network, then sharing your profession in your profile, and mentioning it at appropriate places in conversation.
3. Have a surrogate handle your social networking so you can ignore it… but don’t share the lie with your audience.
If you’re well-known in your industry—a television personality, a politician, a musician, or an industry expert, for example—you may simply not have time to keep up conversations on social networks. It’s perfectly acceptable to have your staff or an outside agency maintain an on-line presence for you. But be involved. Don’t let your staff lie to your followers and represent themselves as you. When someone discovers they’ve been duped, the social network you exploited will turn on you. The speed with which public sentiment changes in the age of social networking can be dizzying.
Your Social Marketing Identity
The simplest—and the least controversial—screen name you can use on a social network where your intention is social marketing, is your name. I’m most receptive to friend invitations from people’s names. After that, I’m more likely to pay attention to a word or word combination that either suggests a person’s interest or that’s busting with creativity. Two of my favorite screen names on Twitter are @kissmyaster and @thegerminatrix. These are both people who are heavy into gardening/landscaping; the names are fun and they (vaguely) suggest professional focus without threatening to deliver a stream of marketing drivel.
I don’t object to a screen name that associates a person with a company. For example, BillToffee_StreppoTires interests me much more than, simply, StreppoTires. As I said earlier: I’m not likely to follow a company unless I’m already a fan or a customer. I might very well follow a person… and knowing up front that he or she works for Streppo Tires saves one step in getting acquainted.
In upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about why you should establish a social networking persona using your company’s name… and I’ll explain responsible and strategic uses for that persona. However, in most cases, the social marketing screen name intended to attract new customers should not be your company name.