Status update: Social media experts are not a tough act to ‘follow’
BusinessQ: With Facebook turning 10 next year, how has social media changed the marketing landscape for Utah Valley companies?
Marty Haws, Social5: Social media is forcing business owners to look at how people gather information — which is totally different than it was two years ago. The businesses that do social media well will stay at the forefront, while ones who don’t do it well stand the chance of being left behind.
Travis Thorpe, Boostability: It’s only in the past four to five years that businesses started noticing the large groups of consumers now a part of the Facebook community. Now that Facebook has brought the masses together, businesses are figuring out how to take advantage of that. They’re thinking about how to engage their customers in this new medium.
Janae Moss, yourfreetree.com: Social media can bring a face and personality to the company, whereas it used to be that businesses and consumers connected on Main Street. Now, businesses have a chance to share who they are online in a personal way.
Daryl Sisk, ESG: Many small, less sophisticated businesses know they need to be on the web and that they need to have an SEO strategy, so they throw money at it. If they don’t have a trusted adviser to guide them, their money disappears pretty quickly. There’s a great opportunity to succeed, but also a big opportunity to spend a lot of money on social media and SEO marketing.
Josh Child, RiSER: It’s absolutely necessary for Utah Valley businesses to engage in social media because Utah Valley consumers are more technically advanced than consumers in other areas. That’s a big advantage. How many times have we heard of friends who try to “quit” Facebook? They try, but then they reopen their account again. Social media is obviously not going away.
Kate Bell, Eli Kirk: Social media helps business owners spread the word to a target interested in their business, making it more than a random act of marketing. Social media allows them to specifically choose a market to target.
Jacob Hoehne, Issimo Productions: It’s affecting how businesses communicate by putting the power of conversation in the hands of the people. Now, instead of being in the center of the conversation, brands are on the outside trying to tap in through social media. Social media has changed the democratization of influence.
Child, RiSER: Exactly. Businesses are starting to understand the importance of having social media, but there’s a lack of knowledge on how to use it as part of a business strategy.
BusinessQ: What connection is there between SEO and smart social marketing?
Haws, Social5: Businesses first have to have a good social strategy before getting involved in SEO. They don’t want to turn on SEO until all their social channels are looking good, otherwise they have no place for customers to go.
Sisk, ESG: That was a big factor for us last year. We worked with Jacob (Hoehne) to create a stronger marketing effort. SEO creates online momentum, and it forced us to think about where the momentum would take us and what we would do with it.
Bell, Eli Kirk: Methods of social marketing and SEO are different from print collateral because businesses have a broader reach online.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: A common mistake I see is businesses getting into social media because they think they need to, yet they don’t have a strategy. They end up going broad but not very deep. There’s more value in 10,000 Twitter followers than there is in 1,000 followers on 10 different platforms, so owning a market is key.
Thorpe, Boostability: Great SEO is a result of great content that people are consuming. The whole idea around creating great content is that people will like and link to it, which helps both social and SEO at the same time.
Sisk, ESG: SEO makes it easy for somebody to find my company, so I want to make sure I’m relevant. Social media is like word of mouth, and it needs to be social and engaging.
Child, RiSER: Content is a big factor for both. It’s just like how “location, location, location” is important for real estate – “content, content, content” is the key to success online. Companies need to have their business goals met just as much as the users need to have their goals met.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: SEO and social marketing force businesses to be authentic. They can’t put out one face and say they’re the best quality and then fail to follow through, because social media will sniff out that hypocrisy. And now customers can talk back to us so easily.
Moss, yourfreetree.com: SEO lets business owners put out information they want people to see, but it’s more important to get consumers to write good reviews. In that way, owners have to work with bloggers who will be talking about the business and the products.
BusinessQ: What advice would you give a company taking its first leap into social media?
Moss, yourfreetree.com: On personal social media accounts, people know you and your sense of humor. Transitioning to business-oriented social media is different because it’s a company logo — not your face — that people see. Many companies realize they need to bring somebody in to help represent their business online.
Haws, Social5: A lot of small businesses don’t know where to start, which is why our company exists. We create a good strategy and help find a voice for businesses. Placed in the wrong hands, social media is a weapon of mass destruction.
Bell, Eli Kirk: One big mistake companies make is failing to view social marketing as a valuable asset, so they put a few different people in charge. Avoid that. A key to successful social marketing is having a consistent voice. Identify a couple people to run a strategic campaign; otherwise, the business will lose consistency and hurt the brand.
Child, RiSER: It’s absolutely necessary to hire somebody who knows what they’re doing in social media. It can’t be treated lightly, otherwise the company will get annihilated. If you’re not going to take social media seriously, it’s better to not have it.
Sisk, ESG: Find a social media strategist who understands your organization. We utilize a former human resources employee who understands our company culture, and having her run our social media is some of the best money we spend.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: Having real people talk on social media is going to go further in most businesses. At Domo, all the employees have their Twitter handle on their nametag, which says something about their culture. They are intentionally encouraging their employees to engage on social media as individuals. It speaks to a culture of needing to give value before adding value.
BusinessQ: How should businesses decide which social media platforms to utilize most?
Moss, yourfreetree.com: It depends on the type of business. For example, businesses related to boutiques or women should be on Pinterest and Instagram because those platforms are visually oriented, and that’s what women like to see and share.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: In the end, companies have to find the platforms that are going to match up with their audiences and what they want to say. Social media platforms are changing at an accelerated rate, and before using social media, companies should ask themselves if they can be the experts in following those trends or if they need assistance.
Child, RiSER: All businesses should be on Facebook, Twitter and especially LinkedIn because they don’t have to coddle it as much as Facebook and Twitter. These platforms have created an organized search for business owners to find their audiences.
Thorpe, Boostability: Social media platforms are always changing. For example, Sharetown is using Facebook groups to sell items in area neighborhoods. Companies are already turning Facebook into more of a marketplace than just a social media platform.
Haws, Social5: Social media channels are going to change, so it’s important to navigate the evolving platforms. It’s amazing to think that one in seven minutes spent online is on Facebook, so businesses need to harness that tool.
BusinessQ: How can companies get more likes and followers on social media? What strategies work?
Bell, Eli Kirk: To companies just starting out, first engage all of your employees and then engage all of your customers on social media. At events, have your hashtags and social media information visible.
Moss, yourfreetree.com: There’s nothing wrong with asking customers to share your social media content. Businesses can create a bond with customers that way, and it’s a key to growing your online following. People want to laugh together, so it works to tap into human emotion.
Thorpe, Boostability: Businesses need to create content that is of interest and that relates to what they do. That’s how they’ll succeed. Take a plumber for example. At first it might not seem like he has much to share on Facebook, but if he can put together informational and educational content, people would share that.
Haws, Social5: Invite customers to engage online with something like a shout-out tab on Facebook because it allows businesses to engage with customers at the point of purchase. That shout-out could be seen by hundreds of the customer’s friends and can boost credibility.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: The question comes back to strategy. A million likes on Facebook might not mean a million dollars. Go in with eyes wide open and with a strategy. Are you developing thought leadership? Are you widening the lead funnel? Are you collecting people to market to? Are you building third-party validation? Have a plan. Just because everybody else is doing social media doesn’t mean you should copy their strategy.
BusinessQ: What role should contests and giveaways play in building a company’s social marketing landscape?
Moss, yourfreetree.com: It can be effective, but businesses can’t use it as their only tool or people get turned off. The promotions have to be in addition to the heart of your brand, otherwise it won’t be fun anymore and customers will start to think you want something from them. Giveaways don’t build relationships.
Bell, Eli Kirk: I agree. If businesses do it too often, it trains customers to wait for a promotion instead of becoming a loyal customer.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: A coupon speaks to a culture of needing to give value before you add value.
Thorpe, Boostability: People get turned off by too many promotions. Don’t overuse.
Sisk, ESG: Consumers are savvy. They’ll start to say, “You can’t buy me with a shiny bauble,” and avoid promotions.
BusinessQ: What overall advice do you have for businesses to create a winning social marketing strategy?
Child, RiSER: Be patient and be direct. If businesses want something from a customer, just ask them for it. Also, it might be a hard thing to wrap money around, but I recommend shifting marketing budgets to allow for social media and online marketing.
Sisk, ESG: Businesses are fooling themselves if they think they are going to be good at social media in their free time. They should have a clear focus and give employees direction on how to share content, or they should hire an outside mentor or guide to help.
Haws, Social5: To have an effective strategy, businesses need five attributes: They need to graphically look the part, to have a good mobile strategy, to be on different channels, to have good custom content, and to have good engagement strategies. If they have those five attributes, they will succeed with social media.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: Businesses need to figure our their “why” to social media. If they don’t know what they’re going to be passionate about, they’ll set themselves up to disillusion their customers. They should have a clear approach before they begin.
BusinessQ: How should social marketing and print marketing work together as part of a full campaign?
Bell, Eli Kirk: No organization should have one with out the other. Each medium reaches different audiences, so there will be levels of appropriateness with each channel you’re trying to reach. Tie your print and online marketing together.
Sisk, ESG: Marketing should be a blended effort; businesses need to be part of the relevant conversation online and offline.
Hoehne, Issimo Productions: One of my favorite things to hear from customers is, “I see you guys everywhere.” It reinforces that we are credible and that we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. Some people aren’t on social media, so businesses should go where their audience is already congregated.
BusinessQ: And with that, you’ll find this conversation on printed paper and online. Your friends will see you everywhere! Thanks for being part of our BusinessQ roundtable today.