Marketing Social Media
Marketing communication is shifting. No longer will traditional promotion alone (banner ads, print, TV, radio, email, outdoor media, direct mail, etc.) build company brands and bring the results needed to be successful. No longer is communicating just one-sided. Marketing is now a two-lane highway where companies—engineers and contractors as much as retail or commercial businesses—not only speak to their audience, but also, more importantly, must listen to what they have to say.
MAKING MARKETING SOCIAL
People have always been social beings. Aristotle famously stated, “Man is by nature a social animal.” Of course, communication styles have changed from the days of cave dwellers. Instead of posting a letter in the village square, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr are used to send and receive information. These outlets have allowed a change in the way people communicate. Instead of picking up the phone to call a friend about their new favorite restaurant discovery, people now find it more valuable to post this information on a news feed.
The flip side of this example can also be true. When stuck in traffic because of a delay in highway construction, instead of calling a friend to complain, people now vent their frustrations on Facebook or Twitter. By using social media platforms, the reach has extended to acquaintances that people have not seen in years. With some channels, the reach could even extend to people that they have never met before. Ultimately, the company logo that is attached to a project gets unfavorable publicity by a simple post of an unhappy customer. If companies are not paying attention to these outlets to find out what people are saying, there is no way to respond effectively.
If someone is talking, others are listening. It is not always about the business message; it’s about when others start talking about the company. A business must pay attention to what others are saying about it. That is a perfect opportunity to leverage the information. Companies do not need to tweet to get value from Twitter. By simply listening, they gain access to real-time market intelligence and feedback. Each channel can allow opportunities to arise for building relationships with customers, potential clients and industry influences.
By making efforts to integrate into the social-media world, companies are essentially taking their image from a nonhuman entity to a human one. What does it mean to humanize a brand? A company gives its business a voice using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog, etc., allowing people to relate to the company.
Determine the tone for the company’s voice. The majority of people change their voice depending on the environment they are in. Business men and women speak differently in a boardroom than they do to their friends after a long day of work. Individuals let their guard down; they are more relaxed and friendly. The same goes for a corporate voice. When engaging an audience in a social atmosphere, think about how the tone should change.
HOW TO MARKET SOCIALLY
- Content is King
Develop strong content to display through social media channels. The content produced—images, stories, videos, graphs or charts—needs to be timely and relevant. According to Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairperson, as much information is created in two days as was created from the dawn of civilization until 2003. That is more than five exabytes of data every 48 hours. In a world where everyone has a voice, a company’s brand must stand out from the noise by being positioned as a leader and influencer. No need to throw current marketing plans out the window; just amend the plan to include social strategies that complement the business objectives.
- Develop Voice
Engage in communities, blogs and LinkedIn discussions where people are discussing the industry’s “hot” topics, such as the latest construction software, Building Information Modeling (BIM), upcoming talent shortages, design-build, etc. Regular participation keeps a business’s name and expertise in front of potential clients.
- Connect Communities
Fostering connections with industry bloggers, LinkedIn groups and publications will promote a firm and its expertise. These communities can introduce an audience which may not have otherwise been reached. For example, LinkedIn can help pursue potential clients and allows for possible business opportunities. Furthermore, commenting on industry blog posts or even guest blogging can mark a firm as an industry expert.
- Share Expertise
Start a company blog to announce new products, communicate successes, showcase work, discuss new trends, and announce events that are being hosted or attended. Do not forget to promote these posts in social media networks: Tweet about the post, start a discussion on LinkedIn, share the post on Facebook. Did a company executive just finish an extensive project that the firm is proud of? Share photos on Flickr or create a video about the project and upload it to YouTube. These tools will put a company’s portfolio on display for a wide audience.
- Improve SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the number of visitors to a website by getting a high ranking on search result pages. One of the main benefits of social media is that it directs traffic back to a company’s website and increases SEO. From there, the website can showcase even more work and provide details about services and products. Now a business is on its way to generating leads and improving bottom lines.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI) OF SOCIAL MEDIA
In a world where every minute counts, if a company executive cannot attribute a rise or fall in sales to something tangible, it is assumed it does not work. Companies today worry about short-term goals and quick results. Executives need to realize that just as not every golf outing clinches a construction contract, neither will social media necessarily do anything to a business’s bottom line in a six- to 12-month period.
What can be tracked from social media is how a company is perceived in the market, and how well it is connecting with clients and potential clients through measuring impressions, clicks, conversions (completing an action like downloading a whitepaper or signing up for a newsletter), comments and pass-alongs.
ROI of social media can:
- educate and inform clients and/or potential clients;
- follow up after a project is complete;
- discuss industry best practices;
- answer questions about products or services; and
- conduct market research.
All these items directly relate to a well-rounded traditional marketing strategy. Companies still need to wine and dine the prospects before they will commit. The relationship must be nurtured. Marketing the brand in social circles does not provide immediate ROI; but over time, it can be a valuable way to connect and nurture current and potential client relationships. It generates an atmosphere in which expertise, competence and authority are assumed. Powerfully marketing social media.
As social animals, people love to share good things as well as bad experiences. Businesses need to humanize their image and create a personal appeal that resonates in their market. Companies must begin to find out what people are saying about them on social channels. When they start to monitor these avenues, companies can discover useful information on how to further position the brand to reach company goals. Companies must ask themselves whether they are listening to what is being said.