We all have clients terrified of social media. For some reason, the idea of mass marketing is easier to understand (and budget for) than the idea of listening and communicating with customers on a one-on-one basis in the online space. When most homes started getting telephones and televisions, businesses paid attention. They added their own phone lines, ran commercials and sent (loads of) emails. The idea was that they wanted to be able to connect with customers and potential customers in as many ways as possible. If that’s the mindset, why do tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn seem to scare so many clients half to death?
The good news is that most businesses at least acknowledge that social media is not going away and that customers want to use these tools to voice complaints, share recommendations and interact with brands. They know that they need to be in the social sphere somehow, but figuring out where to start can be paralyzing.
I’m not saying that every business NEEDS to be on Facebook or tweet or have a presence on any of the other smaller networks which seem to be growing at an exponential rate (I’m looking at YOU Tumblr, Instagram and Google+). What I am saying is that it’s critical that your clients, especially those at the top of the food chain, understand just what social media tools are, what they can do and that they should personally get their feet wet.
At our agency, we work with clients to set up an overarching digital strategy, as well as advise them on social media best practices. Often, clients say they aren’t “ready” to jump into being social. This is sometimes due to fear, internal culture or a general resistance to change. But if you’re working with a client who knows that social media should be part of the overall marketing plan, here are 10 things you can teach your clients right now to show them how to be more social online. They’re low-lift and low-risk, but these will introduce them to some of the ways that their business can benefit through the use of social media tools.
1. Add photos of your staff and a link to each employee’s LinkedIn profile on your website. Cut the bullshit and make bios of staff and management more personal and honest.
2. Set up a Google Alert for your business name, three industry keywords and your top competitor’s name. Google will email you a list of the latest articles, posts and content it indexes that fit your criteria.
3. Complete your LinkedIn profile. Get and give three recommendations.
4. Ask or answer a question in a LinkedIn group.
5. Set up a Twitter account, at least for personal use. Follow 30 people. Use search.twitter.com to enter keywords that interest you and follow those users.
6. If you’re already using social media tools for your business, add links to those networks to your email signatures, website, and e-marketing campaigns.
7. Set up an app like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that allows you to sort Tweets, users and searches into manageable lists. Create three search columns. Monitor three keywords or names on Twitter in real-time. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
8. When posting to your social networks, use “I” less — talk about others and recommend business partners on social networking sites rather than trying to sell.
9. Use Google Blog Search and leave three comments on blog posts about your industry. DON’T SELL!
10. Share local community information with your friends and followers. Your stream doesn’t all have to be about your business.
Social media is first and foremost about people connecting with other people. Businesses fail when they put too much emphasis on the “media” part rather than the “social” part. Conversations are currency and the more that clients can build a base of knowledge of social media tools, the more you as an agency will be able to build a more effective and robust digital strategy that your clients will understand, as well as make their brands more human and more accessible.