Is Your Industry Out of the Loop on Social Media?

Today’s post covers 3 ways to find out if social media could make an impact on your company’s brand before spinning your wheels. You don’t want to start leading customers down a path if you don’t intend to commit to communication in a social world.

1)    Ask yourself, do your customers and the influencers in your industry (analysts, reporters, experts) generally have access to the Internet?  Are they between the ages of 24-65?  Then they’re probably talking about your business or industry online in various blogs, sites, and social applications.

2)    Before jumping into any activity of your own, launch an online listening campaign. This will allow you to see what people are saying about your company online and build an appropriate strategy to increase awareness and support your goals.  You can begin a listening campaign by:

  • Setting Google Alerts, to see news and blog posts where you are mentioned.
  • Creating a Twitter account and use programs like TweetDeck to find out what the micro-bloggers are saying. Hint: TweetDeck makes it easy to view different topics in search windows like your company name, industry terms, or competitor mentions.
  • Watching what comes in for a few days or weeks. If the traffic and the content seem valuable, then marketing through social networking tools makes sense for your business.

3)    After you have a sense for the environment, start to reply to people and engage a bit by creating some of your own tweets/posts and sharing current company information and updates. For example, tell your followers you just launched your email newsletter and a link to the hosted version, or post offers that drive online traffic back to your company website, facebook page, or email marketing sign up form.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Consider hiring a college student as a summer intern now. Many of these tools were invented by college students for college students– before businesses began to take notice of the value for themselves. Students can teach you the ropes of the various social networking sites, start the listening campaign for your business and report back daily any reputation challenges that you need to start addressing. When you are ready to commit have the intern begin posting some approved messages from you or your company that you’d like to begin circulating.

Social media marketing is about marketing from within a community, not at a community. You need to belong, add value, and participate in order for it to pay off.

Follow me on Twitter @reillyjacobs Follow VerticalResponse on Twitter @VR4SmallBiz Follow StartupNation @startupnation

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