Picking a social media winner

In the industrial marketing sector, the effectiveness of social media is still far from settled. I know companies who have genuine evidence of sales made through social media. I know others who use it to chat with prospects and customers, and who need no convincing that it’s good for business. On the other hand, there are plenty who are avoiding it like the plague, even after 10 years or more of opportunity. And in between? Most of us, who dip in and out and probably do nothing that well.

I consider ‘social media’ to be referring to any websites, platforms or apps which allow us to ‘share content’ or network with individuals. Some are primarily to chat (e.g WhatsApp), others are primarily to publish (e.g YouTube), and many more are combinations of the two (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). There are far too many for any normal B2B company to manage, so we need to focus on what we can handle. This might only be one or two – but if so, there’s no real excuse for not managing them properly. What should they be?

I think that in this discussion, we can safely ignore messaging applications such as WhatsApp. More controversially, unless you’ve doggedly stuck with Facebook for years and built up some sort of community, it’s hard to recommend a service which has failed to get away from its ‘friends and family’ roots. Similarly, Instagram and Snapchat aren’t exactly the first place most prospects would expect to interact with a technical business, even if your kids love it.

Twitter certainly has its fans, but it’s essential to do it properly. If people contact you via Twitter, they expect a response quickly. You need to be able to provide that, so if you’re not permanently wired into the service (like me), then you need to ensure you’re informed about any activity in a way which will get your attention (such as email notifications). Twitter is not proving to be a particularly good one-way broadcast medium, except through its advertising services where your message can be inserted into the timelines of people you don’t know.

YouTube is not necessarily considered to be ‘social media’ by all businesses, but I think it can be – and if so, it may well be the most important of all. I’ve talked many times about the importance and effectiveness of posting videos, and advertising your videos (through Google Ads) is very cheap too. Again though, if you’re going to allow comments – and I’m not sure it’s a good idea – then you need to be really on the ball with responses.

LinkedIn is another service worth looking at, but you need to know your way around it. It’s a great place for publishing proper articles, as well as engaging in discussions. It’s also ‘respectable’ in a business sense, in a way some other services would envy. I’m not sure if Google My Business counts as a social media platform, but its ‘Posts’ feature might be, and that’s a really underexploited opportunity. If you don’t have the bandwidth to interract with prospects and customers through social media, at least make sure you’re using this and YouTube.

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