Don’t Be Antisocial – Making Sense and Use of Social Media

No matter how much time you have, there's a social media strategy for everyone.

October 18, 2017

6 Min Read
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Jennifer Anaya

By Jennifer Anaya, VP of Marketing, Ingram Micro

Many partners are reluctant to use social media for their businesses because they have limited time and marketing resources.They also question whether the effort is really worth it –- it is!

Spending just a few hours a week on social media can help partners increase awareness, enhance credibility, strengthen customer relationships, build brand loyalty and grow their businesses.

In fact, today it’s hard to overestimate the importance of social media in business. If trusted colleagues and friends like a product or service, we assume we will too. Those “conversations” are increasingly occurring on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels before inquiries and purchases are made. Being a part of the conversation with a presence that projects accessibility and credibility is a powerful marketing tool. Likewise, listening in on those conversations and taking note on what is being said, recommended or even critiqued can be equally powerful and serve to inform your marketing message and approach.

Ready to get going? The most important thing you need is an effective website because much of your activity needs to link back to it as a beach head and as a way to measure a return on your time and efforts.

Some other important things to consider:

Have a Plan

It’s key to make a plan and be realistic about the time you have and how many social media channels you can use, because it can get overwhelming.

  • If you have the time, start blogging. It’s an excellent communication tool for establishing thought leadership and credibility on topics of interest to you, as well as your prospects and customers, and it puts you in a position to think about how you can give back to others.

  • If you aren’t comfortable writing or don’t have the time, contract with a professional, such as a freelance journalist or PR specialist who can chat with you about topics and ghostwrite blogs for you. This is also a great way to multiply yourself and create other content for your website (that you can link to from social media accounts).

  • If you have very little time, don’t start blogging. Instead, get on social media platforms and share published content with your own take about the subject matter or why others should be interested in it. This will help you network digitally, accrue followers and help to establish your digital brand.

  • If all else is a “no go,” start using social media to weigh in as an expert on existing articles. This will help bolster your thought leadership while keeping efforts to a minimum.

It’s important to be as consistent as possible. Keep a schedule or calendar to stay on track because …

… being active for a week and disappearing for a month will lead to disappointing results.

Channel Surf

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all terrific channels for business. Which ones you devote your limited time and resources to depends largely on your customer base. Do some due diligence by searching for customers and business colleagues in the various channels. Note their level of activity and choose your channels accordingly.

The big three for business:

  • Facebook offers the largest blend of demographics of any social channel, but is particularly popular with adults ages 25-54, many of whom access the site several times a day. It’s also the easiest to manage and allows for what many marketers consider the best possible targeting with advertising. At Ingram Micro, we’ve had a lot of success with pulling website visitors from Facebook.

  • LinkedIn is considered the best B2B social channel as it’s the easiest one for connecting with business professionals. LinkedIn prioritizes relationship building and offers a group or multiple groups for just about every industry and vertical imaginable. It’s easy to join groups and start engaging with peers about relevant topics of mutual interest. Advertising on LinkedIn can get expensive, but it’s inexpensive to be actively participating; nurture a following and post content to draw visitors to your website.

  • Twitter is great for sharing news, content and photos, and your posts can go viral. That’s helpful because the more people who share your posts and retweet them, the more followers you attract. You also can grow your followers or audience by retweeting colleagues and industry influencers who have lots of followers to increase the chances of them following you back. One easy and often fun way to engage people on Twitter is to post your own polls. You simply ask a question and give viewers a choice of two to four answers.

Instagram, the photo-sharing platform, and Pinterest, another photo-centric channel, are additional options but don’t have the B2B impact of the other three.

Think Cocktail Party

When you’re at a cocktail party with colleagues, you don’t go on and on about how awesome you are, or your company is, or disparage your competition — because that reflects badly on you personally and professionally. You also don’t talk business non-stop. So … don’t do that on social media either.

Some additional tips:

Don’t talk about financial matters, things you don’t know about or polarizing topics such as politics, religion, sex, etc. Instead, talk about …

… personal and professional interests, topics that interest people you’re connected with, and industry happenings and trends.

And, just like you’re working the room at a cocktail party, strike up conversations with others by soliciting their opinions. Also, befriend industry influencers, such as analysts and bloggers, by replying to their posts and sharing them. When you engage with influencers, it enhances your profile and they also appreciate it.

Stop Worrying

It’s not uncommon that people are concerned about using social media because they’re afraid that their digital conversations and followers will reveal their business relationships and customers to competitors. The reality is, if your relationships with customers and partners aren’t strong enough to withstand an appeal from a competitor who discovered them because they follow you on a social network, it’s only a matter of time before you lose them anyway.

In my experience, social media has had the opposite effect — improving customer retention and making companies more accessible, and real. With a presence on social media, you make it easier for customers to connect and interact with you, and build loyalty and advocacy. The majority of Americans who follow brands on social networks are more loyal to those brands. This is especially true of adults ages 18-44, making social-media networking important for your business today, but even more so tomorrow. It’s time to get social.

Jennifer Anaya is vice president of marketing for Ingram Micro North America. In this role, she is responsible for directing the activities of Ingram Micro’s marketing organizations across the United States and Canada.

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