A couple of years back I have written an article asking the question: Why aren’t we socially active?! My response back then was mainly about the use of the tools that make it easy for us to be notified, read, and eventually share. Meaning the mobile apps !
However, my intake today is that social is different when it comes to being social from a business perspective. Yes, it is about sharing, but seeing an update from a friend and sharing a comment is one thing, and responding to a feedback about your products or services from a customer is another.
How businesses are social?
Nothing new here as social media has been around for ever, in digital years so to speak. Businesses are using content marketing to produce material that can attract the attention of the audience. They are also listening to ensure they can get insights on how the market is changing or what their customers might need from feedback submitted from various channels.
Some might say, and I won’t argue, is that this is the least thing any business can do. Without that, they can’t even be labeled as social. But is it enough? Is it justifiable? and the most important aspect; Is it effective ?!
B2B social with an ROI
Three characteristic come to mind when we talk about ROI and effective social communications regardless of the channel:
Relevant: Meaning that the content, post, video, etc is right for the audience. So, if we are being social on our personal Facebook page, we might share our crazy obsession with Chess. But on our company page we might also have a crazy obsession for Chess, but only because we sell premium Chess boards and we know that those following our company page expect us to talk about Chess.
One aspect that demands relevance is the brand image; or what ever perception, i.e. persona, we actually want to project. I bring an example from posts and articles I publish and share here on LinkedIn. I have a pattern where I usually talk about my field of expertise; that is digital marketing or technology in general. As a result, I believe my followers expect to read more or less about these topics. So subsequently, I need to remain true to the audience and relevant by keeping to the pattern set forward. This does not mean we shouldn’t address other topics; but we just need to manage the expectations so our social activities does not have a negative impact on our ongoing virtual relationship with the audience.
Authentic: This is very challenging if we are trying to attract attention and simply ran out of creative ideas to talk about what we do and more importantly, why would anyone care to listen? I also think being authentic is about adding value and really considering the content generated or the comment posted. As businesses we can’t simply afford to seem indifferent or provide worthless material. There is a good article from Mckinsey on the 7 deadly sins of customer experience and it nicely highlights the importance of being authentic at all levels.
Frequent: I repeat here from another article I’ve written to address the frequency as a key pain point for businesses. No surprise here, as quality content is hard to come by, and if we need to be effective and gain a positive ROI; we have to communicate frequently to sustain our relationship with the audience.
On the concept of frequency, I bring an example of companies that employ agencies to kick start their social channels then due to budget cuts, decide to run those internally and fail to provide the same level of content generation engine that was complementing the activity. All social media networks are full of “Ghost Town” social accounts; as I keep calling them. LinkedIn Company pages, Twitter handlers and many where the last post was a month ago. If we are being social; we can not go off-the-grid like that!
Big on Social or Just Social
I want to end with a thought on how social we need to be? I am tempted to say that no business today can afford NOT to be on social media. However, that is an overkill if other traditional channels are complimenting the activity. Social media is about informing and listening. If our business is well equipped with tele-services, email marketing, or regular postal service to update and inform clients and prospects of our services and we can also respond, in due time, to their calls or emails; then we are social enough and might not need to be posting on social channels. Also, we do need to consider a feasibility study to ensure we are not missing out on prospects who might be on social and expect us to be there.
“Big on Social” would be if we have the resources to manage all possible channels along side traditional ones if they have already been set in place, and we can remain: Relevant, Authentic, and Frequent. If not; then “Just Social” is enough !
Have your say; do you think businesses have to be at least social ?