Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing should not be only about posting content on social networks and hope that people will find it and do something about it. Engagement is needed, but it should not annoy people or be too vague or promotional.
Before you begin, make sure that you have one or a few people dedicated to this effort. Results will only show on the medium and long term and it's important to be persistent and consistent.
For software vendors and re-sellers, the major challenge when managing social media is to show that they know their market. While the benefits of a CRM or ERP solution are relatively easy to understand, the main competitive advantages of a software solution may be harder to understand by marketers who do not have experience with the software solution they promote.
In order to create and implement an efficient social media marketing strategy, marketers need to work together with project managers and even technical people in order to properly understand the offering of the company they work for.
1 Identify the people involved (who's in charge and who's helping). This may seem pretty straight forward: you just tell people what to do and they do it, right? It's a bit more complicated if you want people to be efficient. First, you need to understand who is comfortable with social media in general and which platforms they prefer. Also, see who is an early adopter of new tools and willing to learn. Finally, don't assume that people who are good at networking for instance will also be good at social media. You may find that someone who isn't even part of the marketing department is really good at social media. When this happens, you don't necessarily need to move that person to the marketing department, but make sure that he or she is involved in your social media marketing activities and rewarded for their efforts.
2 Define who does what and how. Ideally people should collaborate to avoid posting duplicate or contradictory content. As mentioned above, marketers also need to collaborate with other employees who may have more knowledge or experience in their market (see point 11 below)
While marketers are usually in charge of posting and sharing on social media, other people from the company can also use their personal or professional accounts to promote their company or engage other social media users. These people can be very helpful for marketing and they shouldn't be discouraged unless they repeatedly damage your brand.
The tool bellow can be used to determine which person is best or what role on social media. At first, you may not be able to evaluate people correctly, so you can let them tell you what they think they can do best. In time, you can follow their performance and update the table below. You can ask ask their peers and even customers, partners and anyone who interacts with your company on social media to gather feedback on the performance of your employees.
Based on self-evaluation or performance, you can assign the advanced people to the tasks they do best. Sometimes, you may not have someone who's advanced enough for a certain social media channel. You may decide not to use that channel, or, if it proves to be important to your customers, you can give a chance to a person with intermediate skills and experience.
3 Start with multiple social media platforms and monitor results to see which one works best. Depending on everyone's experience and on research which shows what platforms your customers may use, it's preferable to choose 3 or 4 platforms to start with. Cross posting on multiple platforms can be useful as long as it's not too redundant. Also, be careful to check the format and length of your posts on different platforms. For instance, if you make your Facebook posts automatically show on your Twitter account, images may not always show, the title of your Facebook post will be cropped on Twitter, etc.
4 Create templates and guidelines on what can or cannot be shared but try not to repeat the same posts too much. Don't exaggerate and create detailed rules that will make social media sharing and posting a challenge for your employees. If there is something that you don't want people to share on social media, it's best for them not to know it at all.
Guidelines should also include best practices on how to interact with users on social media, how often, and how fast to respond to complaints. The research bellow shows how fast companies respond to complains on different channels, as well as the the level of satisfaction of the people who complain.
5 You can try to automate posting or try to post at times that have the biggest impact on each platform. While there is research to indicate what the best times may be for each platform, it helps to use analytics tools (usually provided by each platform) to better understand your audience.
"What 16 Studies Say About The Best Times To Post On Social Media" combines data from multiple studies to give you an idea on what the best times to post may be on each major social network: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+
6 Track all interactions (shares, likes, comments, etc.) and statistics (usually free on each platform). Facebook Insights provides information on likes, reach, views, clicks, etc. Similarly, Twitter analytics will show you the number of impressions, interactions, profile visits, etc.
Google Analytics can also offer information on social media users who visited your website, from which platform, device, etc.
Finally, there are tools that you can use for more detailed analytics and monitoring of your social media presence:
7 Identify hashtags and lists to follow so you can get the latest information about your market. Influencers usually have useful lists which you can follow but you can also create your own lists. The main benefit of a list on Twitter for instance is that you can you can see what is being shared by accounts without following them.
There are hashtags for each type of software solution like #CRM , #ERP, #PLM , etc, but also more general hashtags like #ENSW(stands for enterprise software). Major software conferences also have hashtags which usually change every year (for instance #oow16 for Oracle Open World 2016) or not (like #CMWorld, #HRTech and #SAPPHIRENOW),
Some hashtags are more popular than others and you can use the tools below to determine which ones are worth following and using. They can also help you find similar hashtags and provide analytics on when they are used, by whom, etc.
There are tools specifically designed to help you find, track and analyse hash-tags - here are some of them:
8 Find influencers in your field, as well as potential or existing customers and don't be afraid to interact with them
For advice on how to find and engage with influencers, read this Building Relationships with Effective Influencers guide:http://research.frac.tl/finding-effective-influencers
The key word in the research mentioned above is "right". Some influencers are more useful than others and you shouldn't follow them just because everyone else does. Influencers can be evaluated based on what they offer in terms of content quality and frequency, on their level of engagement, or on the relevance of the content they share. Below is a very simple model to evaluate an influencer:
9 Always respond to comments as soon as you can -if you don't have an answer, let people know that you will follow up. It goes without saying that you should follow up, ideally with an answer or a solution. Even when someone else in your company answers the questions or provides the solution, still follow up to see if the customer if satisfied with the result of the interaction.
But comments aren't always business related. They can contain rants that have nothing to do with your company or what you're selling, offensive replies to other comments, and even jokes or sarcastic remarks. Before responding, try to understand what people are trying to say. A sarcastic comment usually means that the person posting it is frustrated but not offended. If you respond sarcastically to a sarcastic, they may feel offended. You won't get everything right but at least try and even ask when you're not sure what people mean.
10 Follow posts from conferences or events and participate in chats, groups and communities
11 Collaborate with other employees in order to better understand the offering of your company or to effectively engage prospects and customers. Here are some categories of employees that marketers can work with in order to be more efficient on social media:
- customer service representatives are in direct contact with customers and they may have answers to questions about the products or services you sell. Also, they can provide valuable feedback based on the interactions with customers
- project delivery managers or trainers usually know the solutions quite well and they also identify advantages and disadvantages of the solution during implementation. Marketers need to know the advantages to promote them, but also be aware of the disadvantages in order to respond when they are asked about them
- technical people like programmers or product managers know the software solution best, but their insight needs to be translated into a more accessible language since most prospects and customers aren't very technical. It also helps to know what new features or products these employees are working on, but be careful what you share on social media to avoid leaking confidential information or intellectual property.
Resources for social media marketing for SMB software vendors and re-sellers:
How Software Companies Can Boost Partner Networks Using Social Listening http://bit.ly/1TSGtuF
Free tools for SEO and local marketing (by Moz) https://moz.com/tools