Are we wasting time on social media?

tereza-urbankovaWe are living through a technological revolution and the rise of social media has not only changed how we communicate and interact with one another but it has also changed how we all view the world.

Access to information has become instant and when a major news event takes place, people get to hear about it first through social media sites. And what’s more, people now expect it; it has simply become an integral part of our lives. In some cases the new form of media is actually starting to drive the news agenda.

Social media is here to stay and for those who haven’t yet joined the conversation, the risk in not doing so is growing every day. Many companies, competitors, clients and peers have a presence in social media, where conversations about industries and brands are happening daily. What’s the best way to look at social media? Social media should be seen as a means to an end, not an end itself and where social media tools can be shown to provide commercial advantage, they should be adopted for the workplace and employees should be encouraged to leverage them.

Which social media tool is the best?

This very much depends on what type of a company you are, what you wish to use social media for and what you want to achieve. LinkedIn is fast becoming the go-to place for both recruiters and jobseekers and it will continue to be a professional hub going forward. If you regularly post news from your website on your LinkedIn page, you continue to drive traffic to your website and ensure all your followers see a consistent message.

Corporate Twitter account can help you raise your profile. Set a minimum number of tweets per week, posted with a focus on promoting strategic contract awards, participation in industry-related events, CEO’s participation in current events/conferences/speaking engagements, corporate and market-specific recruiting events, employees in the news, and important dates/results in your financial calendar – this approach will steadily build your database of followers.

Have you thought of setting up your CEO’s Twitter account? It is also great for profile raising; however, thought leadership can be your secondary rationale. This account can be used to establish an authentic voice of your CEO as a thought leader, demonstrating the strength of his/her values, expertise and industry knowledge and raising his profile, thus creating value and opportunity for the company. A CEO, through his/her personality and strong views, can become a brand ambassador for the organisation. Quality over quantity; and authenticity are key to success.

To give a sense of how valued a social CEO is, a Weber Shandwick (Global PR)* global study found out that 76 per cent of executives think that it is a good idea for their CEOs to be social. Among their reasons for favouring their CEO’s social participation is how it reflects internally – 52 per cent feel inspired by their CEO’s sociability and transparency. Looking externally, 69 per cent say that it enhances the company’s market credibility.

As a B2B company we haven’t seen much substantial value in expanding our social media presence to Facebook and Google+ – these are best thought of as a placeholder, to prevent an unauthorised page being created and/or the company name being unavailable should we decide to adopt either in the future.

YouYube has proven to be a great tool to share people/community videos, company videos, project videos, etc. Videos should not be too long – ideally under two minutes in length! It is advisable to regularly refresh the existing content; however, it depends what role a video plays in promoting your company and what you do.

Or, you can even go one step further with things like Tweetchats or Google Hangouts, which are essentially online focus groups.

This is by no means a complete list and there are many more tools you can utilise. What companies need to remember is that branding is vital – people must know exactly and recognise who you are and what your values are.

Are we making the most of social media?

However, from a business perspective, I believe there is still some way to go before we can say social media is being properly utilised. Some companies seem to keep forgetting the word ‘social’ in ‘social media’ and that they can use it for more than spitting out press releases and sales pitches. Social platforms should be 50 per cent listening and 50 per cent activity. How can you know what your customers want and expect if you’re not prepared to listen to them! By listening, engaging and responding to your audience, the better the long-term benefits of your online efforts.

Social media is an excellent marketing and advertising tool as well as a great way to gauge customer feedback. At the very least you should be monitoring everything people are saying about you and there are plenty of tools to help with this. And, there are additional things to consider on social media, for example, conducting regular online polls, a simple yet effective way to get people’s opinions.

Last but by no means the least, if you really want to get seriously involved in social media and make the most of it you also need to have a social media strategy. And, the first step, like any other element of business, is planning! How else can you determine if a campaign has been successful if you have no objectives and metrics? There are many examples of companies just ‘getting online’ and ‘seeing what happens when we post a few messages’. With social media and its intuitive use, it is very easy to get carried away.

One thing is for sure – social media is not going to go away and trying to ignore it will be a big mistake to make for any business or jobseeker. The world will move on and those who are not part of the journey risk getting left behind.

 Author: Tereza Urbánková

 

*Source: Weber Shandwick / The Social CEO: Executives Tell All (2013)

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Category: CONTRIBUTORS, Tereza Urbánková