A decade ago there were only eight media channels—eight! Now there are over 100, and contained within that 100 is a subset of over 200 well-known social networking websites. One of the most challenging marketing endeavors, especially in an economic environment where ‘constrained’ budgets are the norm, is determining where to focus your company’s outbound marketing time and attention.
In today’s marketing model the two most important components are relevancy and timing. How does one best determine what is relevant to their clients, and, how often should contact be made to keep your brand top of mind without being a pest? The easiest and most obvious answer is also the right one. Ask your customers.
Or, perhaps go where your customers are going. Be part of your customers’ experience by using social networking to ‘hang out’ where they are online. In the early stages of a marketing relationship it is easier (and better) to be where your audience is rather than trying to force them to become a part of your company’s community. If your goal is to start a conversation, share information, pose a question or invite them to fill out a profile or survey it’s smart to get to know them first so that you can frame the conversation in their language. Start with the buyers who make up 80% of your business and follow, link, and get to know them via social networking.
The most visited websites in the world in 2014 (according to AfroDigit.com) were in top ten order: Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, WordPress.org, Adobe, Blogspot, Wikipedia, GoDaddy, and WordPress.com. Although it didn’t make the list I would add the business community LinkedIn and topic-specific business blogs—which you can find by networking with your clients.
This leads us naturally to a second series of questions—what presence does your company/brand have on any of these sites? How are you presenting your company and what is your stake in the ground? (In other words who are you?) What presence does your company have on LinkedIn or any of the industry-related LinkedIn Groups? Does anyone from your Sales or Marketing team(s) regularly participate in industry group chat room conversations? How are you making your company’s expertise known?
Once you’ve spent some time paying attention to the interests of your current clients then begin building your company network by inviting your new (personal or company) social network to like or follow your company.
Pinpoint key customers and their interests then start the company-wide outreach. Put together a master outreach plan with small achievable steps. Assign the outreach to your sales team with help from an internal outbound marketing employee. This can be as simple as sitting down with a sales rep, allowing them to login to your company social networking page and have them ask their appropriate connections to like or follow your company page. Add links to your social networking sites to the footer of all employees email signatures. Include following information in all your outbound marketing materials.
Done? Now you must populate and manage that page. This should be done using a filter based on who you are and what you wish your clients to know about you. If your company has chosen to be the thought leader on industry directions or new technology then your outbound information should reflect that. If you are producing unique complex custom projects then that’s what should appear on your page. If you are the company that knows everything that is going on in the market then you can share that information with your clients. A clear understanding of your company’s expertise, experience and personality will drive your outbound marketing communication--supporting who you are and delivering content that your customers care about.
Social networking can be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to regularly communicate with your customers. The key word here is regularly. And so we’ll circle back to the beginning--make your communication relevant and timely based on who your company is and how you wish your clients to perceive you.