A few months ago, Amber Naslund (or @ambercadabra, as some of you may know her), VP of Social Strategy for Radian6 , hosted “Social Media for Small Businesses,” a webinar encouraging small businesses to take a look beyond likes, fans and followers and rethink the way they view how they’re using social media to help reach their business goals. Amber talked about how small businesses can apply the lessons of the book she co-authored with Jay Baer (@jaybaer), “The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social” to engage customers and employees and see bottom-line results.
The webinar was chock-full of great info — so much, in fact, that the session not only answered many participants’ questions, but brought to surface many more. While Amber did a fantastic job answering questions during the webinar, you all had even more dilemmas to be solved.
What better way to address your specific follow-up questions, we thought, than to ask our resident queen of social media, Jenny Weigle (@jennyweigle), CareerBuilder’s Social Media Manager extraordinaire? Jenny, a pro on all things social media-related, tackles your questions with panache. Read on:
Social Media & Small Businesses: Q&A with Jenny Weigle, CareerBuilder’s Social Media Manager:
Q1: Social Media is very useful for product-related companies… But how can you compare these efforts to service-oriented companies like IT professional services/consulting companies?
Jenny: Social media provides a platform for businesses to showcase what is unique about their products or services. Consulting or professional service companies can use social media to have an ongoing dialogue with their audience to better enhance the services they provide. These companies can also use social media to join in on the conversation in their industry and work to establish their employees or executives as thought leaders. Think of social media as one more tool to help build relationships.
Q2: Do B2B companies have different social media “rules” as opposed to B2C?
Jenny: The “rules” aren’t that different, but your audience is. Sometimes it’s challenging to get a B2B audience to engage with you through social media. At CareerBuilder, we have found that our B2B accounts see increased engagement when they are more personalized. For example, on our @CBforEmployers account, Amy is the admin and we’ve added her to the profile picture and bio so that the audience knows there is a person behind this account. In my professional opinion, people are more likely to engage with another person than with a company or brand.
Q3: How would a business find comments about themselves out on the vastness of the Web?
Jenny: Two websites to start your search on are SocialMention.com and Search.Twitter.com. Try typing in your company name, and don’t forget to consider various spellings of your company or brand, even if they are incorrect. You can also try searching your company’s leadership names as well to see if they are being mentioned in conversations. Some other great resources are: CrowdBooster.com, YourOpenBook.org and Topsy.com. If you have a budget, tools like Radian6 can provide even more in-depth monitoring and reporting.
Q4: How would you know if there is a negative comment out there about your business?
Jenny: If you’re not monitoring your social media or online initiatives, then you probably don’t know if there are negative comments about your business. Start of by utilizing the resources mentioned in Q3. Then, if you come across negative comments, decide how you want to respond to them. Keep in mind that your response will most likely be public.
Q5. Do you have any suggestions for convincing company leaders of the benefits of social media when they view it as potentially “unprofessional”?
Jenny: People could be talking about your company or industry on social media, and chances are they already are. Business leaders have an opportunity to be part of that conversation through social media, instead of just being on the outside of it.
Q6. How do we build trust and perceive credibility?
Jenny: You can build trust in many ways. One way is not to remove negative comments from your social media account. Instead, respond to the person and start a dialogue to address the issue. While the conversation may be public, it will also show your other fans that you are listening and taking their concerns seriously.
Another way to build credibility is to offer your professional advice, free of charge. Don’t use your social media accounts to sell, sell, sell. Use them to show customers and potential customers that you are the expert in your field.
Q7. How do you feel about outsourcing social media management?
Jenny: Companies have many reasons to outsource social media management, and this could prove to be very successful for a company. Social media is about being authentic, and the most authentic spokesperson for your company would typically be an employee of your company. If you do choose to outsource, make sure the person acts as an extension of your team.
Q8. How do you make the time when you already have little time to accomplish all the other tasks you have?
Jenny: Using tools like CoTweet or HootSuite allows you to manage many platforms at once. I always advise people not to start a social media account if they can’t keep up with it on a regular basis. To me, this is like opening a hotline for your business but only having someone occasionally available to answer the phone.
Q9. I was just hired to be the voice of a health care company. I am finding it hard to give life to a relatively very stiff field. Any suggestions?
Jenny: Take a deeper dive into the health care industry by finding people who are very passionate about their field. Ask to shadow them for a day, and then post updates and pictures on your social media accounts. Invite them to be part of a task force that you can tap for ideas on what to post on the health care company’s social media accounts.
Q10. If we use social media for business with customers, clients, and coworkers, how do we keep our personal life and friends private?
Jenny: Every business should create a social media strategy, plan and goals. These items should be documented and shared with company leaders. The strategy should only focus on the business, so it is the responsibility of the administrator to make sure that each post reflects the strategy and plan they put in place and that these accounts are maintained separately from personal accounts.
As you get your business accounts started, you may want to reach out to your personal network and inform them about your new social media presence as a way to build your foundation of followers.
Q11. If you have limited time to keep up with social media, which one would you choose to do (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)?
Jenny: I would choose the one that your target audience is most active on. How do you determine that?
There are a number of ways. Here are a few:
- Survey your clients.
- Conduct research on the Internet.
- Participate in chats or groups on each network.
Don’t open a social media account without taking the time to learn about your audience and what conversations are taking place.
Q12. I’m a small B2B manufacturing business who sells to factories and people who have been around for 30+ years. These aren’t folks who would even know how to spell social media. The industry is very low tech and not technologically oriented; how would you approach this?
Jenny: As mentioned in Q11, I would do some research to find out if your target audience is on these platforms and what is being said about your business/industry. It’s possible that you’ll discover very little and may decide that it’s not worth opening a social media account for your business at this time. You could, however, also view this as an opportunity to be a trailblazer and the first person in your industry represented on social media.
Q13. What is the life span of a twitter post?
Jenny: Depending on how many people your users are following in their own accounts, it could be mere seconds. This is why it’s important to be active and consistent on Twitter. There are many studies out there with varying results on this. Overall, the life span isn’t very long, and you shouldn’t rely on one tweet to get your message out. Reword and rephrase the message so that you can send out multiple tweets on the subject.
Q14. I just started a new company, how can I use social media? Wow, where does one begin?
Jenny: A good starting point would probably be to read “The Now Revolution.” Use the sites I recommended in Q3 to research the conversations taking place about your competitors. Use this information to decide which social network you want to be active on first. Also, be sure that your social media strategy is in line with and part of your overall marketing plan and goals.
Q15. We’re a non-profit construction trade association; we’re trying to make the most of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.). But, our members don’t seem to be participating… how do we address this?
Jenny: What do your members want to hear from you? What’s important to them? What would it take to get them to engage with you on social media? What kind of value are you bringing to your members through social media? If you haven’t asked them these questions, then you could do so through a survey, or post one question at a time on your social media account. Also, review your analytics. Just because they might not be commenting on posts doesn’t mean that they’re not viewing or sharing them. Bit.ly provides a great way to track your clicks and other analytics on the links you’re promoting through social media.
Q16. We have a unique opportunity — how do we get our message, such as recruiting sales reps, out to the social media?
Jenny: It’s important to first learn the behaviors and perceptions of your target audience before embarking on any sort of recruitment marketing campaign – that is, any sort of successful recruitment marketing campaign. Have a plan before you jump in. Remember that you are trying to foster a relationship with current, prospective, and even unknown candidates, and it’s something that you continually need to be working on. If you’re not consistently engaging with people, you’re going to see your existing fan base decrease.
Social media is really just an extension of what you’re doing today, so taking elements of your existing strategy that are successful and applying them to social media is the easiest way to start. For example, if internal referrals are a really great source of hires for your organization, take that internal referral program and spread the word on Facebook. Engage your existing employees on Facebook and provide easier ways for them to share openings or career opportunities at your company with their Facebook friends. We’ve seen a lot of organizations post up job openings on their Facebook wall and then encourage people to share that with friends who they think would be a fit, and they get a lot of really good applications that way. So, that’s one way to take something that’s a tried and true recruitment practice and apply it to social media.
Have a lot of engaged Twitter users? Don’t simply tweet out jobs, but also link to interesting articles about something fun /exciting/positive/interesting your company is doing right now. Work on building those relationships and putting a personality behind your online social media accounts. On Twitter, Facebook, or other online networks, post reasons about why it’s great to work for your company, pictures from employee gatherings/events, or testimonials from employees. And of course, give job seekers an easy way to see/apply to the job posting for your open sales reps positions on these various networks.
Many of the companies that we at CareerBuilder have worked with who are successful in social media have become that way by getting to the root of their story. Finding those little elements that are unique about your company’s culture, and really bringing those to light on the page, is the easiest way to engage and get started.
Q17. What have been some effective ways restaurants have used social media?
Jenny: There are many unique ways that restaurants have embraced social media; this article by TheNextWeb.com highlights a few of them.
Q18. What is the best way to start marketing via social media?
Jenny: As I mentioned above, start by formulating your social media strategy, plan and goals. Align these with your overall marketing plan. Ask yourself key questions: What do your customers want to hear from you? What are your goals on social media? What is the added value that you are bringing to your customers through social media?
What other questions are burning a hole in your social media-filled heart? Let us know in the comments — and Jenny just may be able to give you the answer you’re seeking.Related