By: Lesley Martin, Intern at Freeman+Leonard. Lesley is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in both International Business and Marketing from the University of Oklahoma and is from Arlington, Texas.
Now, more than ever, companies have been reaching out to internet users to gain surges of popularity, defined in the social media realm by number of likes, followers, and connections. A single “share” on Facebook can increase the scope of a company’s “reach”, thus increasing brand awareness amongst an entirely new set of internet users. This form of social media marketing is driven by word-of-mouth (well…clicks and keyboard), and because most social media platforms are cost-free, the company which takes advantage of social media marketing and is successful in communicating either its brand or purpose has earned rather than paid for the ¬¬increased market exposure and consumer interaction by giving followers material that they like and feel inclined to share with their social network. (Results by Design Consulting , 2012) It’s easy to see why a company would want to jump in.
But when the dust settles and a company has gained all of the “likers” and “followers” that it possibly can for the moment, the overall effectiveness of the site should be evaluated to determine how long the company’s social bliss will last. Are fans and followers actually getting anything out of the sites? Why did you “like” that last page on Facebook? And what made you “follow” that totally random company on Twitter? Have you ever “unliked” a page because it was really doing nothing for you other than clogging up your feed?
Having spent some time perusing through company pages on Facebook and analyzing the Twitter activity of various firms, I came to a few conclusions. I’m no expert on social media marketing and I certainly haven’t even skimmed the surface of all of the pages out there, but it takes an investigative eye to see and understand what can make or break a company’s success in reaching out to internet users via social media.
Why should anyone “like” you?
We’ve all “liked” or “followed” our favorite bands, organizations, restaurants, and alma maters. All of these things have benefitted us in one way or the other. So what should push us to seek out and “like” a company’s Facebook page which we know little about? Or maybe we know a whole lot about a particular firm…but why should we find them on Facebook?
Think about what sets your company apart from others. Who are you? What do you do? It seems like an easy feat, coming up with a creative way to make it obvious. But not so fast! At first glance, could a visitor to your page figure out what products or services your company has to offer? Make this apparent via background, cover photo, profile picture, or “About” section. You would be surprised at how many pages lack this information!
Make your page a tool. Give users a reason to revisit your page every once in a while. Keep them from clicking “Like” and then forgetting you even exist. Mostly likely, they “like” you because they really admire or appreciate what you do! Shine a light on your company’s real-life MO. Not only will this give your page a purpose and keep the clickers clicking, but if you can maintain a positive image of your company and can live on someone’s news feed, then you may be the first to come to mind when they need your products or services in the future.
Who’s your market?
Of course a company welcomes anyone to “like” their Facebook page or “follow” them on Twitter, but it is important to consider the unique market or set of clientele that you attract when choosing the material that you post. Keep followers up-to-date on the latest industry news; give them fun and related facts. Remind fans about upcoming events, related to your company or perhaps just in the area. Make it relevant to your unique market.
The magic mix…
A little online research will uncover the modern science of “posting.” When to post, what to post, and how often to post on Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn- it has been outlined and formulated to make it easier for users to accomplish their goal of social media popularity. This insight can save you hours of trial-and-error postage, but it takes time and maintenance to figure out what works best for you. Keeping in mind 1) your market and 2) your company’s MO are very important here. Tailor the formulas that you find or have come up with to match the expectations of your followers and the intentions of your unique brand. The amount of thought that you put into what material you post will ultimately be reflected by the image that the social media site paints of your company.
All that glitters is not gold.
Numbers alone can be unrepresentative of where a company’s Facebook page stands on the social media success scale. A million “likes” is impressive to the unknowing eye, but scroll a little further down on some pages and you’ll find that interaction with users could be better. Many pages boast thousands of fans or followers but fail to recognize the comments, concern, questions, and (sometimes harsh) criticism posted on their wall. This is a red flag for anyone who visits your company’s page! Negativity from those familiar with your company can contribute to an overall negative brand image.
Once a company jumps in and commits to social media as an outlet of communication and representation, it must be devoted, in a way, to maintaining a relationship with the internet users who have interest enough to post comments, share material, and ask questions. Don’t disappoint your followers or let the time and efforts that you, the company, spent beautifying the site by failing to be exactly what you should be here…social! Leave no one hanging, or at least try and interact when possible. One disappointed follower may lead to many more. After all, this is word-of-mouth marketing!
So if you’re just jumping into the social media craze, take some time to consider these concepts before stamping your company’s name on a Facebook page or Twitter account. For those who’ve been around the block, it’s never too late to tweak here and there- you’ll certainly like the results that you see.