Social Engagement...Get Closer To Your Clients

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As more and more companies jump into social media, Tom Dennis has a warning: Social media is nothing more than another tool without a strategy.

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Social Engagement...Get Closer To Your Clients

  1. 1. Insights Insights Marketing & Branding Social engagement How to use new media to get closer to your customers Interviewed by Sue Ostrowski A s more and more companies begin How can you use social media to improve jumping into social media, Tom your products and services? Dennis has a warning: Social media is nothing more than another tool — one By listening to what people are saying. whose use requires careful planning and Leaders hate to hear bad news, but that’s consistent management. In other words, really how you can improve your product, you can’t just have random people at your service and your company, because your company posting their thoughts on you are getting instantaneous feedback. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other If you have a blog, allow for comments sites. and feedback, which is a great way to “That’s as bad as doing nothing at all,” start a dialogue about your brand. If a blog says Dennis, vice president of Business doesn’t allow feedback, people start to Development at BrandExtract. wonder if you’re worried about the feed- Dennis says that everyone at your com- back you’re going to get. It’s all about being pany using social media should have as transparent as possible and allowing for the same description of your company a really good conversation to take place. on their profiles. And no one customer Current research shows that people can be wants to get 10 Tweets at night directing less trusting of brands these days, so look- them to information about your company. Tom Dennis ing as if you are trying to hide something “You have to have a strategy of how Vice president of Business Development doesn’t help strengthen that desired bond often you’re going to communicate and BrandExtract with customers. what you’re going to say,” he says. In addition, you need to monitor what Smart Business spoke with Dennis is being said about your company. This about how to use new media to engage allows you to get immediate feedback on your customers and potential customers have to describe everything they do dur- your business and, if it’s negative, address and how to use it to improve your prod- ing the course of the day. it head-on. For example, a friend recently ucts and services. As with a company’s brand, the most Tweeted about how bad his cell phone important thing is to be consistent with company was, and the company actually How can a business leader get started using the message. Once you make the com- called him to say, ‘We saw you mentioned social media? mitment to having a presence on the Web us online and that you weren’t satisfied or to start a blog, you have to stick with with our service — and we want to make One of the easiest things to do is write it. There is nothing worse than going to you happy.’ He went from someone who a blog. Focus on topics about your busi- a company’s Web site and looking for was complaining about the brand to some- ness, but be careful not to be too com- ‘the latest news,’ and finding there hasn’t one who became an evangelist for the mercial or people will stop coming back. been anything posted in months or years. brand, which is ultimately what we’re all Pick the hot topics, the big, burning is- Many companies make the mistake of after with our consumers. sues within your industry and share your starting something, then the person who thoughts on those. The idea is to get peo- is responsible for managing the online What is the biggest mistake companies ple coming to your Web site to read your activities leaves the company or chang- make with social media? thoughts on a subject and while there es positions and things flounder. When seek out other areas of your site for in- news isn’t kept current that’s almost One of the biggest mistakes a company formation about your product or service. worse than doing nothing at all, because can make is hiring someone to handle It’s all about positioning yourself as a it looks as if there’s nothing happening its social media strategy based solely on thought leader in your industry. with your business. Once you make that his or her understanding of the technol- commitment, it is critical that you keep it ogy. For example, someone right out of How often should you post information up and maintain it. school may seem like an obvious choice about your company? Most importantly, once you get involved to head up your social media efforts, but in social media, have a strategy for it and while that person may understand the It varies. It’s something you can do to be committed to it. Once people get used technology, they may not have a clear stay in front of your clients. For example, to seeing your brand out there and your understanding of the company’s brand you can update your status on LinkedIn company being visible through social position and brand message — and what or Facebook every day with a short de- media communities, they’ll keep com- information is best to distribute. You scription of what you’ve got planned for ing back to see what you have to say and really have to be careful about who the day, such as going to a conference or contribute their own ideas and thoughts you put in charge of your social media going to hear someone speak. What you to the dialogue. activities. << don’t want to do is post that you’re ‘go- ing to lunch.’ One of the biggest mistakes TOM DENNIS is vice president of Business Development at BrandExtract, an integrated branding and communications firm that guides people make with social media networks, growing companies by providing strategic branding solutions, marketing communications, advertising, print and interactive services. including Twitter, is that they think they Reach him at (214) 770-7378 or tom@brandextract.com or go to the company’s Web site at www.brandextract.com. Insights Marketing & Branding is brought to you by BrandExtract © 2009 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the October 2009 issue of Smart Business Houston.

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