How social are you?
Do you do social media? Personally, professionally, for your company? What’s your thinking behind it? Here, mmadigital, the online marketing agency looks at what social media means to business and how you can make the most of it.
Social media is a continual talking point these days. It’s praised for reuniting kind-hearted strangers, for breaking news from around the world almost instantaneously and for connecting people in different timezones, cultures and occasionally worlds.
It’s also berated for creating narcissistic monsters, peddling incorrect information and creating lazy journalists. Just this week, I was reading an article about someone complaining that Twitter has been hijacked from brands for the hard sell. To some extent, I agree. According to statistics released this month, there are more than two billion active social media users worldwide, so of course businesses want to be there.
Social media and its widespread use is relatively young still, but its meteoric growth has become a force to be reckoned with. And therein lies the issue. Many businesses jump on the social media bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. That’s not the reason to be on social media.
As a marketing and communications bod, of course I’m a social media advocate for brands. But as a person, I think it should be about more than advertising. Social media, just like blogging, should be an extension of the human elements – or indeed actual humans – in your brand and business. Engagement is key to social media success. Don’t be the company that just promotes their own wares. That’s not the point of social media from a business perspective. Of course, we all have something to sell or give and social media offers the fastest route to that, but people want a more authentic connection.
Many professional services firms, such as lawyers or accountants, are unsure of benefits of social media, or worried about negative feedback out there for all to see, or sometimes they just don’t know how to use it. All of those reasons are perfectly acceptable. And for all of those reasons, you should give it a try. Challenge yourself to be different. That’s the big thing now many companies are there on social media and indeed trying to attract customers. So, what makes you stand out?
My three universal advice points are: know your brand, know your customer and know you’re human. For every brand identity online, there’s a human behind it, from developing the identity, tone and strategy to creating and curating content. For me these tie up everything social media marketing – and yes, it is marketing if you’re a business because your ultimate goal is to attract or retain customers. But marketing doesn’t have to be the cold call via Tweet or Facebook status. Brands which engage, share content that will be interesting to their customers or target market, talk like real people, talk to real people and stay true to what they are all about are the brands that are successful in the social media game. People buy from people. Don’t do the hard sell. Inform, advise and engage in whatever tone best suits your brand and the customers will come naturally.
Mmadigital is an online marketing firm specialising in working with legal and other professional services, offering social media strategy and management, lead generation, video and web. To find out more visit www.mmadigital.co.uk or if you’re already on social media, connect on Twitter @mmadigitaluk or LinkedIn.com/company/mmadigital.