Second in a 3-part series: Building Out Your Galaxy
As you read in part one, establishing your online presence works to ensure your company’s information can easily be found by potential customers searching on the web. But just as a single star shines on its surroundings, its no match for the collective brilliance of a galaxy of stars. Content shared freely and linked to your website, directory listings, and various online profiles increases the relevance of those properties and can boost customer attention on you and your company. In this article, we’ll cover how to create content that will help your stars shine the brightest.
In the current marketplace, social media must play a key role in developing your presence. At its core, social media is about engaging in conversations with real people, and interacting with them authentically. In the past, a company had to know (or purchase) a potential customer’s phone number, mailing address, or email address in order to get in touch with them, and typically those interactions were entirely one-sided. Now these two-way conversations between customer and company happen publicly, and in real-time.
While there are many social media platforms to consider. There are a few big players with a critical mass of users, and each has its own distinct personality. Twitter, in its 140 characters, can be thought of as a headline broadcast tool for trends in your industry, but also has been used as a tool for addressing customer service issues. Facebook allows for longer form responsiveness, market research and promotions thanks to the insights it allows companies to capture via its API. LinkedIn Groups & Answers provide a focused way to engage a more select audience, due to the way group memberships can be managed. And though Google+ does not currently allow companies to setup profiles, you can leverage personal (real people only) profiles for key personnel in your company.
As you think about the kinds of content your organization and the people in it might share via social media, it’s important to remember that the internet never forgets and most content you share this way is public the moment you click “post.” Don’t let this intimidate you; just remember to be thoughtful about what you share and ensure it lives up to your brand promise. And don’t be tempted to just pass this off to the new guy in your marketing department. There is no substitute for hearing from real people who are creating and supporting your products & services.
You can group content into three categories:
Many online listing and social media sites allow you to capture and share customer reviews. While asking satisfied customers to leave glowing reviews and positive ratings is helpful and makes everyone feel good, prepare yourself that you’re also likely to see some not-so-glowing reviews come along at some point. You should see this as an opportunity: social media is the perfect venue for providing real-time customer service to dissatisfied customers. Not to worry, though. Satisfactorily resolving a customer’s issue in a public setting like social media can actually provide greater benefits in the long run; customers who’ve had problems and see the lengths to which you are willing to go to fix them can become your strongest brand advocates. Beware: never, ever plant reviews (positive or negative) on your profiles or on a competitor’s. The public has a way of sniffing these out and they will come back to haunt you. On some sites, it even leads to removal of your profile or outright banning of your accounts.
Diligently monitor your brand’s reputation and gauge the perception of your company. Tracking sites (such as Google Alerts and TweetReach) help automate this repetitive task. By keeping track of specific keywords and setting up alerts, you will be notified anytime someone posts about your company, a competitor, your industry or offerings. This gives you the ability to monitor the situation, get in on the conversation, and, if appropriate, offer assistance or relevant content. Doing this consistently is a great way to introduce your brand and cultivate long-term relationships.
Resist the urge to just “collect” friends, followers or ratings. If you offer relevant, useful content, they will come to you. One easy way to organically increase your number of followers (and along the way gain insights and future content ideas) is to follow/friend/like clients, colleagues, or others in your industry. Many have set up automatic follows and will reciprocate by following you immediately. Others will manually follow you over the next few days.
Providing fresh, relevant content takes time and energy, to be sure. But every link, tweet, status update, and discussion post adds another star to your online galaxy. Collectively, they will begin to show your customers you are serious about the work you do, and that they can trust you. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure where to start; an agency can help you to develop a social media strategy, recommending what, where and how often new content can be posted.
In the final installment of this series, we’ll explain how to measure and optimize your online presence to help put better, more qualified leads into your pipeline.
Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video and used under the Creative Commons License.