Is social media a useful business tool or a waste of time?

If you are a B2B company that still believes social media is a waste of time, it’s time to dig deeper into what a digital dialogue actually means to your business growth.

Social media is a useful business toolWhen we wrote a similar post on this topic three years ago, Is Twitter an exhausting waste of time or productive business tool? social media was still an unproven medium in the business world. Many CEOs running small and medium-sized businesses, were skeptical about how it could produce meaningful leads or prospect interactions for their business. Today, people are still asking these questions but now our answer is more concrete. Buyer behaviour and buyer expectations have changed – social media is a compulsory part of any integrated marketing program regardless of what you sell or who you sell to.
60% of the sales funnel is taking place in the digital space. Therefore, a company’s digital dialogue (all communications and content in the digital space) is what starts the customer dialogue, not your sales people. Companies need to think long and hard about how they are going to communicate with their customers before speaking to them via email, on the phone or face-to-face. Used properly, social media builds trust and communicates customer-centric content to effectively engage prospective customers at the top of the sales funnel.
But today’s digital dialogue needs to be rethought. The purpose of social media is not to broadcast product-centric information and spam people’s news feeds. The purpose is to help people discover, educate and solve business problems.

Don’t be afraid of social media

At Marketing CoPilot we have come across a number of people who think it’s too much work or don’t understand its true value. Companies need to embrace social media, use it to their advantage and think of it as an integral part of their marketing strategy. Here are a couple helpful hints to decrease fear and accelerate ROI:

1. Sharing: Getting back to the true meaning of social

Twitter and LinkedIn are more than merely broadcast channels. The true meaning of social media is to share. Therefore, retweeting is just as important as tweeting. A retweet is when you repost another Twitter accounts post. Taking a couple minutes every morning or every other morning to look through your Twitter home feed and retweet a couple of your followers’ tweets that relate to your business, interests or opinions will increase engagement with your followers immensely.
Sharing posts on LinkedIn and Facebook from your company page through your and your colleagues’ personal accounts will significantly increase the reach of your content, allowing all connections to potentially see your company’s new post.

2. Shout outs: Giving credit where credit is due

Taking a couple minutes to give shout outs on Twitter to individuals or companies who start following you, retweet your tweets or favourite your tweets goes a long way on Twitter. Not only does it increase engagement with your followers but you are also giving a human touch to your social media which is appreciated more than you think.
When you are sharing an article, event, blog, etc., always give shout outs to the source, those associated with the content or individuals/companies that you think might find the content of value. This will increase the reach of your post by showing it to your followers as well as the followers of those you mention.

3. Focus: Be where your customers are

If time is your biggest worry about adding social media to your digital dialogue, start small. There is no need to blindly dive into a social tool if you can’t support it from a content perspective or it is not where your customers are. For example, when many B2B companies started adding social media to their websites, everyone added Facebook. But if you did a poll of your best prospects and asked them if they look for business advice on Facebook, the overwhelming response will likely be “no”. In a business environment, many companies ban Facebook and YouTube from corporate access during business hours. So think about where your customers are using social media and test. Don’t assume.

Social Media Case Study: A Woman’s Voice Matters

A new project we have co-founded with IWCC Training in Communications is A Woman’s Voice Matters, a charitable resource committed to improving the communication skills and ultimately, the leadership role of women who do not have access to training. As a new organization, A Woman’s Voice Matters primary opportunity for creating an effective digital dialogue is through social media. Social media enables AWVM and its followers to contribute to the conversation of why a woman’s voice matters in the world.
Lisa Duffy, the founder of A Woman’s Voice Matters created her vision for the organization during a social media course she took to understand how social media impacts the development of new organizations and ideas. Through social media, she was exposed to many people interested in and talking about women’s issues and leadership. She was able to engage faster and in a broader way with people than she could have ever done face-to-face. Not only could she extend her reach using social media, she could expand the dialogue she followed in both Canada and United States and connect with organizations in both countries that discussed these issues.
When Marketing CoPilot offered their expertise to build a digital marketing program to launch the organization, we set very specific goals for social media interaction as a way to drive traffic back to the website and engage with organizations looking for training opportunities. The point of this exercise is that if you are a business or a non-profit organization, the opportunity that social media provides to join discussions, follow people who share similar goals and values and discuss ideas is staggering. When used in its original intention, to share, social media is incredibly powerful for organizations of all shapes and sizes.
Yes, it can be tricky to navigate. Yes, it requires time, attention and good content. And, no, it is not a silver bullet. But it is part of an integrated digital dialogue that when used properly, can reap huge rewards for your organization.
We are proud to be a founding partner of A Woman’s Voice Matters and part of their community. We would not have gotten to the place we are today without social media.  In the “old days” (three years ago), it would have taken much longer and a lot more research, time and money to build a community. This is the very productive opportunity that social media has created for everyone.

Struggling with your digital dialogue? Fill out the form below to get your copy of the Content Marketing Workbook:

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