Social media can be overwhelming. Some skeptics think social media is a complete waste of time. But during a meeting at Dell's headquarters last week, Cloud Computing Evangelist Barton George gave me some friendly, simple reminders about the value of social media. The entire conversation can be boiled down to three core points for managed services providers and small business owners. Here they are.
First, a little background. George isn't your typical Dell employee. Since his days at Sun Microsystems, George has been tracking social media and open source trends. And more recently, he's pushed beyond traditional blogging into video blogging. You can learn more about George and his views here.
You already know I'm a strong believer in social media. But when it's time to explain the value of social media, George says there are three simple reasons why VARs and MSPs need to get started. They include:
- Monitor & Respond: You need to protect your brand. By monitoring FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs (through Google Alerts), you can defend your brand, answer questions and stop misinformation about your company before it goes viral across the web.
- Educate and Inform: This is where you take the time to tell customers more about your services, expertise or unique selling proposition. Generally speaking, this involves speaking to established customers or speaking to customers who have needs for your services.
- Establish Thought Leadership: This is how you pull new people into the sales funnel. Perhaps a local business owner didn't realize (A) they had a pain point and (B) you have the skills to solve that pain point. Through pro-active communications, you're able to describe your expertise and create sales opportunities that otherwise may not have materialized.
How to Gain Social Media CredibilitySo, how do you establish social media credibility? Stuart Crawford, a former VAR and MSP who now offers social media and marketing services at Ulistic, offers up this simple formula for success:
- Frequency + Visibility = Credibility
Of course, that formula can backfire: If you're a poor communicator who promotes controversial views, you could wind up driving away existing customers rather than recruiting new customers. But generally speaking, I think Crawford's formula for social media success is right on the mark.
When you combine George's thoughts with Crawford's perspectives, you begin to see (A) why MSPs need social media and (B) how those MSPs can establish credibility online.
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