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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 27, 2013 8 years ago

Quality trumps quantity in social media

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Social media may not provide huge returns, but they can help build an engaged, loyal customer base.
by: James R. Contributing Columnist

Social media has become a marketing power to be reckoned with and one that requires equal amounts of strategy and instinct to best utilize and leverage. The following are five primary ways to build and manage social media efforts to effectively reach out to clients and build relationships.

1. Choose your platforms strategically to effectively engage your clients.
While the primary social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) are the price-of-entry options, there's a continuously growing amount of secondary social media outlets you can utilize. Just don't try to have a presence in all of them. Remember, you can be part of anything, just not part of everything. Focus more on which outlets align with your company's services, products and marketing style.

2. Keep an eye on competitor usage of social media.
Each industry and market has a different entry level that has to be met for social media to get above the white noise. Some industries are more suited for YouTube than Facebook, or Twitter over Instagram, or Vine over Uber.
Keep a pulse on where your competitors are using social media. Also, keep an eye on where your clients are on social media. Find where those two segments align and focus your social media efforts there before experimenting with secondary or tertiary social media services.

3. Use the 3/1 rule of knowledge contribution versus product promotion when posting.
Social media is not meant to be a source of high profits for a company. It's meant to engage with clients and consumers. With that in mind, for every three posts of knowledge contribution, where you provide something insightful or useful, you can post one service or product promotion.
The three parts advice to one part promotion is an effective balance for engaging clients via social media. If you inundate them with “buy our service/product” posts too often, clients will stop paying attention to you.

4. Evolve your website when appropriate to prevent aging.
Websites are a standard weapon you need in your social media arsenal. You can't just create a site in 2013 and leave static content on there for 10 years. One design with non-updated content doesn't cut it anymore.
Clients seek regularly updated content on websites. Content should be updated weekly or monthly, depending on how closely engaged you are with clients. Website design should be reviewed at least every two years to ensure that you're providing an effective and efficient layout for clients to engage with you online.

5. Utilize third-party experts when appropriate.
Depending on your company's size and bandwidth to focus on social media, utilizing a third-party service or independent contractor to help manage your social media efforts makes sense.
Make sure that you have a media strategy you want accomplished and make sure whatever third party you work with is in agreement and capable of achieving the results you want.

For those with established social media platforms and strategies, I've found three initiatives to best leverage social media efforts and to best manage long-term maintenance.

1. Look for general trends in visits to your website.
It is in your best interests to review your website statistics on a quarterly, or at least bi-annually, basis.
Review visitor numbers to determine what times have the highest viewing rates. Time your marketing releases accordingly to reach the most viewers efficiently. Identify trending search terms that viewers use to find your website. Make an effort to post fresh content in relation to search terms growing in popularity.

2. Trace social media contact back to your marketing activities.
Keep track, as best you can, of who's following you on which social media platform. When clients/consumers reach out to you, you can cross-reference to determine how they found you or what marketing effort reached them. This is great for your marketing and sales teams to justify their various efforts.

3. Use social media surveys to generate insights to your marketing efforts.
It's worth utilizing a survey every year to generate insights into your marketing efforts. Reach out to clients who follow you on a social media outlet, and request their opinion on your company's services/products/marketing efforts. Entering participants into a raffle for a gift card or discount for your products/services provides an added incentive for participants.
Use the insights and answers compiled from the surveys to better leverage your marketing and sales initiatives.

Social media by definition is more social than business. It's not as easy to quantify and qualify your efforts and engagements with clients. It's still worth the effort to strategically use social media to build relationships and engage with customers and those who are most likely to become customers in the future.

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