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Make social media work for your business

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“I used to be addicted to social media … So I stopped. Today, I still use social media, though only for business purposes.”

Social media. You can’t escape it – it’s such a big part of life today. I wrote an article for The Zweig Letter on November 11, “Social Media and Your Business,” pointing out some of the negative aspects of social media, particularly how individual use of it can hurt productivity, client and staff relationships, and morale. Some of our own people didn’t care for what I wrote, reason being one of the marketing advisory services we provide to clients is to help them with their social media marketing. I can see their point. While I stand behind everything I wrote in that article I probably needed to expand on it.

Let me start by offering that I used to be addicted to social media. I relentlessly posted pictures of my cars, motorcycles, houses, kids, and more, and commented on everything all my “friends” posted to show how clever and tuned in I was. But I fortunately saw the error in my ways on what a waste of time it was and how all I was doing was glorifying my own ego, thanks to my wife (who always provides good counsel). So I stopped.

Today, I still use social media, though only for business purposes. We use it very successfully to sell and lease out properties for our development company. And I use it to promote my management and business philosophy to hopefully benefit both Zweig Group and the Walton College of Business. And yes, it can be a very effective marketing tool, because so many people use it and those who do spend a tremendous amount of time on it (one study claims one out of every eight minutes online is spent on Facebook, for example).

It is also a good news source, although you have to be careful with that, too. I am “over-informed” on some popular news subjects, and the danger in that is it, too, can affect your mood!

So if you do want to use social media for business, here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Create and distribute lots of unique content. You need ALL of your discipline and market sector experts writing something regularly (weekly – is that too much to expect?) about what they are doing, what they know, and what is happening with their (your) clients and projects. Get them to focus on providing information and opinions that will help your clients or promote their interests. Don’t sell. Provide information. Post your employee writing on your own website – have a blog section where you warehouse it. Also have some white papers that you can provide for free to anyone who gives you their contact information. Do original research. Then repost links to that material through your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages. And finally, ask the rest of your employees to help distribute that information through their own social media accounts.
  2. Be focused and consistent. Keep everyone on track. Monitor your firm’s and your employees’ social media posts yourself. Be sure that you aren’t straying from the original content distribution strategy and degenerating to employee birthday parties, travel meals, and blatant attempts to sell something. And create a schedule that you stick to for content creation and posting, and hold people accountable to that. It won’t be easy, as most people slack off and use project workload as an excuse. But consistently posting quality information will have a big impact on how useful social media is for your marketing.
  3. Try some paid promotion. Every one of the social media platforms has options for you to pay to promote your content. I can’t claim experience with LinkedIn on paid promotion. I can tell you we have had a lot of success getting new “likes” and “followers” from paid Facebook advertising. I recently experimented myself with paid Twitter promotion and found it less successful. You need to be running your own experiments. Getting lots of followers and the right ones is crucial to your success with social media marketing. The more you have, the greater the odds that someone who could hire you sees your stuff and thinks you have insight and other skills that could benefit them. Not to mention, you may grab the attention of other media the more followers you have which could help spread your message even further.
  4. Avoid the temptation to do more with it. I have said it before but this bears repeating. Too many blatant ads for your services, too many charitable causes, too many birthdays, too many reposts or sharing of other firm’s posts (unless they are clients!), and you will turn off your audience and lose your likes and followers. And never ever stray into politics. We live in a divided country and you run a 50/50 chance of alienating someone you don’t want to alienate by posting anything remotely political.
  5. If this all seems unmanageable, get some qualified outside help to assist you with the entire process. Don’t just delegate your social media marketing to an inexperienced intern who doesn’t understand what you want to accomplish with it – easy to do, but too risky!

I’m sure I could go on but have used all my time here. No doubt, the subject of social media marketing will come up again soon, so there will be more to come from me on this subject at some point in the future!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.



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