Businesses are constantly being told to “leverage the power of social media”, to use social to “engage and excite your audience”, to “build a loyal following” and to “bring new leads on board”. It all sounds very promising in theory, but how exactly do you go about doing this in real life?
For those companies whose business model isn’t about bringing sexy or revolutionary products to market, it can be easy to get disheartened. IT services are a case in point: the chances are that your business centres around a group of core product offerings and providing customers with precisely what they need to solve very specific problems. You want to make more of social media, but it’s difficult to see how you are going to ‘set the internet alight’ - or even just to get noticed amid all the noise.
If this sounds familiar, here are some tactics to integrate more effective social prospecting into your strategy…
Tell great stories
This isn’t about story telling just for the sake of it: your mission is to build trust and set out your stall as a company worth doing business with. It goes back to the key concerns of your buyers; one of which is whether your particular product offerings are going to meet their needs. So your ‘stories’ can be, in effect, case studies; real life examples of how you have delivered real benefits to your businesses. In other words, the focus should not be on the features of your products, but how they have made a difference.
As well as a steady flow of case studies, it’s also worth looking at ways to showcase your company’s culture and values. Again there’s a sound marketing reason behind this: for more than a third of buyers, the reason they switch vendors isn’t necessarily to do with the quality of the offering, but the quality of the service provided. The aim here is to indirectly highlight why you’re a safe pair of hands. If, for instance, you are targeting a customer group in a well-defined geographic area (and are advertising personal service and quick on-site response times within that area), you could consider posting and sharing content that shows your strong ties with the local business community.
Develop thought leadership the easy way
This doesn’t necessarily have to be about commissioning your own very expensive research. But nor is it just about reposting authoritative content from elsewhere. Rather, you can take newsworthy stories from other sources and provide your own take on them, expressing an opinion and adding to the debate by drawing on your own experiences.
Create a buzz around events
Let’s say you would like to put together a seminar for existing customers and potential leads. Here, social can be your ‘best friend’ each step of the way. At the outset, you might want to consider a simple tool such as Tweetpoll or just direct message would-be attendees to find out which topics they would like to see covered.
Next, you could build expectations by releasing ‘snippets’ of what’s going to be included in the event, perhaps by posing questions such as “What’s the biggest compliance risk facing your business right now?” and encouraging followers to engage in debate. Afterwards, you could release the key takeaway points on SlideShare.
So for IT firms, social shouldn’t be about being ‘noisy’ just for the sake of it, but about communicating with your followers in a way that reinforces why you’re worth listening to.