To say that the Internet has transformed society would be an understatement. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, while it took TV 13 years. For the Internet, it only took 4 years. And Facebook? It added 100 million users in only nine months. That’s what happens when you combine something as powerful as the Internet with people’s interests in learning, sharing and connecting to others. That’s social media.
Social media has gone beyond keeping up with friends from college or sharing family photos with relatives. It’s become so integrated into people’s daily lives that it’s now the go-to source for nearly all types of searches — both personal and professional. That’s evidenced in Enquiro’s most recent Business to Business survey that found 51 percent of B2B buyers start research online directly at a search engine. In addition, 83 percent of B2B buyers said they found the company they made a purchase with online.
If your staffing company doesn’t have a social media strategy, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on a great way to connect with new recruits and new customers.
Traditional vs. Social Media
Traditional marketing such as print, radio and television are all one-way communications. The focus is on the message (sell!), the mediums are easy to control and companies can retain a strong grip on their brand and how it’s presented. Social media involves two-way communication. It involves a soft sell centered on relevant and timely content that is much different than the straight sales messages of traditional media. It’s about starting and participating in conversations, which makes it inherently more difficult to control.
That also makes it harder to control your brand image. In fact, overt efforts to control your brand in social media can often back fire, causing even more PR for something that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. This is known as The Streisand Effect. When Barbra Streisand objected to a picture of her home being used in an online study of shoreline erosion (and threatened to sue to have it removed), it caused the picture to be spread even more widely than had she not said anything at all. But don’t let that scare you. Think of it in terms of online product reviews. Customers want to hear real person accounts of a product or company in order to feel good about doing business with them. Social media allows you to show this side of your company, so you become more than just a name and a logo.
Social Media Tools of the Trade
Social media encompasses a lot of territory, so it’s good to understand at least the basics.
Email — Messages sent directly to a prospect list that followed appropriate opt-in procedures and follows federal CAN-SPAM guidelines.
Blogs — A web log or personal journal kept on the web typically focused on a particular subject. Twitter is considered a micro-blog since it only allows 140 characters.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — Keywords found within your website that match the search terms people use to find information on the web. The more closely your content matches the search (especially for more specific searches), the higher your website will appear in search listings (although the algorithms to determine exact SEO are a bit more complicated than this).
Paid Search — This is a form of targeted advertising where a company pays to have its listing shown at the top of web search results when specific keyword searches are performed. In essence, you “buy” the keywords to have your listing appear.
Social Media Platforms — These are mediums such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter where users go to share and read content.
Monitoring Tools — Tools such as Radian6 and Alterian SM2 allow you to monitor where your company name comes up in social media platforms. Applications such as Ping and Hootsuite allow users to manage activity on multiple platforms from a single application.
Developing a Social Media Strategy
Keeping track of all the aspects of social media, your message, and ultimately your brand, may seem like a daunting task. It’s imperative that you establish a social media strategy just as you would establish a plan for any other business endeavor.
1. Set clear, realistic, measurable goals. This may be a certain number of followers, a number of postings per week, etc. However, don’t measure success based on someone else’s benchmarks. Ashton Kutcher may have millions of Twitter followers, but you may only need 100 of the right followers to meet your business goals. Also, be sure to define your overall social media goal. Are you looking to better retain current customers? Attract new hires? Get your name out in front of potential new customers? All of the above?
2. Choose technology that fits your goals. Pick one or two social media platforms and get good at them. Once you’ve mastered one, it’s easier to move into other platforms to spread your message and engage readers. Trying to do too much at once can quickly lead to frustration.
3. Engage. Engage. Engage. Remember that content is king, so make sure you’re keeping your audience’s needs, wants and challenges in the forefront. Create content that is timely, relevant, solves a problem, shares knowledge or confronts an industry issue. This helps establish you as an industry expert, making readers more willing to turn to you when it comes time to do business. Also offer up opportunities for feedback whenever possible. It’s about engaging in conversations, not one-way communications (i.e. sales messages).
4. Put it in writing. Make sure your goals, assigned responsibilities, social media policies, platforms and overall plans are all in writing. This gives you a document to reference and help you stay on track with your strategy.
5. Monitor, Measure and Keep it Going. Be sure to monitor your followers, click-throughs, shares, etc. to see what is resonating with your audience and what isn’t. Then make adjustments accordingly, whether that’s changing up how often you post new content, mixing up the types of content you post or trying out new mediums. Use positive momentum to mix it up a bit and add new strategies into your plan.
Good luck! A good, engaging social media strategy can reap huge rewards in terms of customer retention and new sales for companies who take the time to do it right.
Looking for more information about leveraging business opportunities through LinkedIn? Then join us for April’s Industry Insider webinar. Read more or register online at www.tricom.com/webinar after April 1.