Social media has connected the world and has provided a platform for consumers and businesses to engage, publicly and privately on an open platform. This provides great opportunity for all involved, and also great risk.
A social media crisis management strategy is critical for businesses of any nature or scale and should be considered very seriously and with high priority. This strategy will assist your company in navigating a potential social media crisis, providing pre-prepared guides and best practices to weather the storm. Effectively anyone is at risk and everyone should be prepared where we should all hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.
How to mitigate online risk:
>> Hire skilled social media managers, whether in-house or outsourced, who are able to identify a potential storm. They will act as your early warning system; however, it is also important to note that not every negative comment is a crisis and so a grading and escalation system should be decided ahead of time.
>> Draft, review and implement social media policies for all employees within your organisation. Education is key, so ensure to upskill your staff to keep themselves safe online and your company free from risk. Your team will also need to know what to do in the event of an online crisis.
>> Implement an employee advocacy program where you upskill and enable your employees to be first line of contact. Equip them to be able to refer potential clients within their network, respond to queries and detect any potential crisis on the horizon.
>> Consider industry scenarios that could expose your business to online scrutiny and prepare for these ahead of time. Ensure your organisation is able to be agile in these instances and implement processes to support this.
>> The best way to mitigate risk is to be transparent and truthful. Clients, customers and consumers want to feel like you have their best interest at heart and know that where they are investing, they feel valued.
It is important to be prepared, and we recommend that you enlist the support of a team of professionals to assist in implementing a robust social media crisis management strategy. Consider your legal team, HR Managers, PR consultants and social media specialists to assist and also ensure that they are agile to respond and support in the event of an online crisis.
Social media is not all negative and with innovative strategies can truly drive business objectives since the platforms have the ability to support the entire customer journey.
Need assistance setting up a crisis management plan? We can help – CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
Social media, an ever-expanding online universe of tweets and blue ticks, connections and conversations, followers and fallouts. We are all well submerged into social media and there is no denying that it is unlikely to go away any time soon.
The Short History of Social Media
In tech terms and lighting speed evolution, social media can express historical progress to what we know it as today. Mostly starting out in university dorm-rooms and presenting itself as a forum for groups to connect online, social media still very much has this same initial vision just with a lot larger groups and a lot more options. In its simplest form, social media provides a platform for all users to search for, connect and engage with niche communities – users being businesses too.
The challenge is with the volume of information, the sheer size of possible audiences and the never-ending need to stay connected. How does a brand decide which platforms to use to connect with their required niche audiences of clients, customers and prospects?
A Guide to the Galaxy of Social Media
It is fair to say that in all this enormity, we can drill down on the top 5 social media platforms since these are the most well-known and, more importantly, most widely used. Just to disclaim that last statement, this is not to say that these big 5 will be forever. As mentioned earlier, social media is ever-expanding and there is no guarantee that it could evolve (within our lifetime) to something different, but with the same vision.
While immersed in our online safari, we typically see the big 5 as being Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Let’s look at each of these in more detail in terms of their unique role in this ecosystem and typical behaviors:
The granddaddy of all social media platforms. Not quite first to market but definitely leveraging off all longevity tactics and currently with the biggest user base of 2 Billion active users worldwide. With one in three humans having an active Facebook account, the same ratio is seen in South Africa with 17 Million active users. People turn to Facebook as a way of keeping abreast of close-knit communities within this global village. Most users frequent the platform to see uploads and updates from their closest friends, family members and acquaintances.
Facebook is by far the most superior of all platforms in terms of its data capturing and targeting abilities meaning for brands there is really little to no wastage when serving content to your specific niche audience. The platform also offers the most innovative and flexible content options supporting a whole host of different ways to get your message across. Because of this extensive data and massive captivated audience, Facebook should always be considered as the primary platform for any business.
The estranged stepchild of social media has had a chance to be great and we suppose it is, in its own right. Twitter is widely used for news updates, current affairs and customer service. It can be overwhelming with the sheer volume of content and in some cases be quite a dark place to frequent however if for your business customer service is imperative then Twitter is a no brainer. Aggrieved customers are likely to turn to Twitter after frustratingly taking steps to have their concerns addressed and resolved. They do this because of the volume and quick fire response that the platform enables. With the average lifespan of a tweet being 15 minutes, these updates are also the internet tinder that could catch a crisis a send a bush fire expanding out to the rest of the big 5.
Twitter users pride themselves in the news to Twitter first landscape of the platform where most of the others only catch on to newsworthy topics a few hours or even days later. It is not all doom and gloom since the internet tinder can also spread good, like seeds sprayed from a low flying plane to replenish a scorched earth. Live event coverage, influencers and listening campaigns provide opportunities for brands to inform, engage and delight their customers through Twitter. It is a balancing act for businesses, however integrity and transparency are key in keeping out of the Twitter CSI spotlight.
This platform can be likened to the darling of all platforms with its lustrous flow of never ending Rapunzel-like timelines, dotted with gorgeous sunsets, sublime cuisine and equally stunning influential personalities. Its captured the hearts and cameras of the younger generation and we are keen to see what this platform could evolve and grow up to become. For businesses, it’s a little trickier… Facebook bought out Instagram recently, meaning the same rich data which Facebook holds, is the same for Instagram users.
The challenge here is that the platform relies solely on visual impact where the promotional qualities of the platform really only enable brands to gain post likes and comments. The best news in all of this is that through Facebook, brands are able to promote content onto Instagram without having a set up or active page on the platform. We wouldn’t consider it the go-to social media platform in all industries unless lawyers and accountants can figure out extremely creative ways of presenting their legal cases and balance sheets in photo format. There are however creative ways of expressing a brand on Instagram that could still drive user engagement.
The boss of social media, LinkedIn of late is really stepping up and coming to the party. Their platform was traditionally stuffed into a recruiter paradise where users knew the relevance of having a LinkedIn profile, but only checked into the platform when they happened upon a connection request. In the last six months or so and with the platform’s buy-out by Microsoft, LinkedIn has rapidly started to introduce additional functionality and is definitely the platform to watch. Now, users are likely to peruse LinkedIn for insightful business anecdotes and opinions by their connections. They see this platform as a place that levels the playing field of the hierarchal traditional business structure; now anyone can connect with any CEO of any multi-national and/or blue-chip business – this is power!
Personal brands are becoming more and more required on LinkedIn where now everyone is considering the professionalism of their online persona. For businesses, we are still waiting for equally innovative functionality and targeting abilities like Facebook, but for now if you operate in the B2B space, LinkedIn is a must! That is not to say that B2C businesses and brands should turn their nose up at LinkedIn because relevant messaging could still find its way to those consumers, especially since aren’t we all consumers anyway?
The wise advisor and also Mr Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, YouTube takes on multiple personalities dependent on what trip the user is after. Effectively a relevant platform to consider with SEO as when users Google a question, they are expecting an answer; where relevant, YouTube could provide a quick and easy-to-follow how to user guide – if this is relevant to your business and/or industry. Being only video content, YouTube can be seen as the big brother to Instagram where users can delve into a long and drawn out rabbit hole in collecting information. It is fair to say, however, that the content does not need to be anything ground breaking or earth shattering on YouTube since there are viral anomalies that pop up all the time. Who knew Justin Bieber got famous out of a YouTube video?
For businesses, YouTube is a great library platform to host informative content and, if necessary, your TV commercials for stakeholder reference. It is important to state at this late stage that snap judgements are hard and cruel on social media and brands should always consider the quality of the content being produced and posted. Video of course comes with a higher price tag, but when done properly can prove fruitful returns for a brand.
Choosing the right platforms for a business can be equally easy and difficult, however it really comes down to knowing your customers. Effectively the same person is on all of these platforms, however they look to each platform to fulfil a different need. It’s the brand’s responsibility to realise that social media provides a platform to speak to the right person, with the right message at the right time. Content is king, context is queen and value reigns above all. In this space quality far outweighs quantity, so when considering your social media strategy, choose platforms where you are confident in delivering quality content consistently to customers as opposed to just posting, everywhere, for the sake of it.
As a social media consultancy, Social Media 101 are skilled in guiding our clients to choosing the right platforms. We are solution minded and driven by results meaning if you win, we win too. Should you wish to talk more on social media and delve deeper into these platforms and how they could work for your business, feel free to reach out. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
This title may seem unsettling to some since social media is generally seen as an intangible online marketing platform for businesses. Either that or many idle hours spent by employees. The sheer fact that these platforms exist online makes it intangible and furthermore social media being a place, online where people from all around the world connect, post and share is quite an unusual concept when thinking more on it. In the same breath, it is fair to say that social media has disrupted our view of the world and is quite likely to stay. In its intangible force, social media has infiltrated society, media, business and brands and has changed the way we operate as a people in some quite extraordinary ways.
So how do we consider this “social media” as an investment? Let’s unpack this in a little more detail:
Specifically referring to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. For a business, having a page on any of these social media platforms is very much the same as having a dedicated radio channel. Your branded station on social media where you are able to broadcast information about your company and its products or services that is widely available to anyone who may happen upon your page. A business’s social media pages should be viewed as assets and investments and should be secured and treated strategically based on what you want the world to know about your business. Your page is a place to express your brand, and let’s face it, snap judgements are eminent.
Social media is a hub of content ranging from articles, posts, videos and flyers to thoughts, stories and comments. All of this content is tangible, it exists and can be printed or converted onto CD or DVD if the need really arose to have a hard copy. All these content assets can and should be viewed as investments. Content takes time, resources and money to produce where in the ever-expanding world of the internet, this content lives on forever (or at least until the internet ceases to exist – another conversation for another day). Content can be revived and repurposed in varying ways, transformed from an inspired blog article to an opt-in data building strategy. It can be built upon to tell a story, educate and inform and should be seen as time and money well spent. Content forms the basis of your business’s personality and persona online, it is those tangible snippets that give customers a sense of what you have to offer. Content should be considered strategically and with a long-term view in mind, even if it may only be relevant or available in the moment of a fast-paced social media environment.
Your online or social media community is an investment. These people (yes, they are real behind the screen), have taken the time to like, follow or connect with your page. They are interested, in varying degrees, in what you have to offer. These collections of likes should be nurtured and managed as they are very likely to be your customers; past, present or future. Online communities require a person or team to manage them, to talk to them, answer questions and queries while speedily escalating or resolving complaints. Companies invest in well-trained customer call centers and well-groomed receptionist, where social media community managers should be as skilled to be front facing, customer centric, problem solvers. Remember, the conversation will happen online whether you are there or not.
How can a crisis be an investment you ask? This point is more on crisis management which leads on from the closing remark on the last point. The conversation will happen whether you are there to join in or not. Social media effectively exists, even if your business chooses to not engage in it. Customers and people in general have free access to these platforms and can freely comment about your brand or business as they wish. Ensuring your business is invested in a crisis management process could mean the opportunity to address any negative feedback or scandals that could arise. There are also opportunities in such crises where your business could be made aware to blind spots, improving products, services or processes. Social media should be viewed as an investment in the face of a crisis where it provides your brand a platform to explain.
Not just for idle time wasted through news feeds, equipping your employees with tactics and techniques to be first to respond to clients and customers on social media could amplify your brand exponentially. Employee advocacy programs could be implemented by provided pre-curated content to your human assets in supporting your business’s online presence. Through this, customers get an insight into your company culture, you tap into your employee networks and this allows an opportunity to humanise your business online. People still do prefer to do business with people, even though a lot of interaction happens online.
Building relationships with influential people within your business network is imperative. Social media users are still more likely to take recommendations from their network over a brand, meaning that for companies it is an investment to acquire online influence whether through other customers, your employees or paid for influencers relevant in your industry.
As a social media consultancy, we look to assist businesses in driving tangible results through the use of their social media, further proving these strategies to be an investment. Feel free to reach out to discuss this further. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101 – we look forward to hearing from you.
LinkedIn: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
LinkedIn is a social network specifically tailored for business professionals. It is a brilliant platform to use for networking within your industry, enabling you to connect directly with decision-makers and allowing you to bolster your professional brand. In the last few months, LinkedIn has included some exciting updates like the ability to upload video directly onto the platform.
As a business owner and professional, the platform is, however, saturated with recruiters looking to head hunt professionals as well as sales people hoping to sell you their products which makes the landscape difficult to navigate and convince your ideal prospects to speak to you.
And now for the ugly… and this does exist on LinkedIn. There are a number of fake profiles who harvest people’s personal information, like your email address, and use this to send out spam and phishing emails. So be aware, any email that lands in your inbox which seems out of sorts or suspicious, especially when being asked to download or click on something, rather ignore.
There are two ways to present yourself on LinkedIn. The first is through your personal profile and the second is through your business profile. These are both important to have properly set up and serve different purposes. Think of your LinkedIn profiles as your shop window. People are bustling down the street or in this case through the platform where you want to attract them into your store, or onto your profile. With this in mind, it is vital to have a clear, strong brand shown on your profile, whether your own brand or that of your business.
The difference between business and personal LinkedIn profiles
Followers vs. Connections
Business Profiles allow your business to gain followers of people who want to see latest updates, information and insights from your business. Personal profiles allow you to connect with other individuals where you are able to view their latest updates and them yours. You can also comment, share and like their posts which will then be shared in your network’s timeline when they are next online.
Paid Advertising vs. Free
Business profiles allow you to promote your content through paid advertising where you can target specific companies or job titles you want to reach. LinkedIn is one of the more expensive social media paid promotion options, however they do offer specific targeting as mentioned above which can be used should speaking to specific decision-makers be your objective. Personal profiles can be used for free where you can upgrade your profile by subscribing to LinkedIn for more access options depending if you want to InMail people outside of your network or post job vacancies.
Business profiles allow you to update images, videos and text posts up to 1000 characters where Personal profiles allow you to update images, videos and articles which can be shared to your Business profile.
Commenting vs. Sharing
Business profiles allow you to post updates and include links from other pages or websites however you cannot post or comment on other people’s posts via your business page. You are able to respond as your business to comments on the content posted on your business page. Personal profiles allow you to comment, like and share both Business and Personal page’s content as well as respond in your personal capacity to comments on your own posts.
Business profiles allow you to view reach, impressions and engagement for both paid and organic posts as well as track likes, comments, share and followers. On your Personal profile you are able to see data on profile views, article views and search appearances.
Optimising your LinkedIn Business Profile
Ensure to set up your business profile to include the following things:
- Profile picture of your company logo. Clean and simple so that it is easily displayed. The profile picture on a business page is much like the profile picture on a personal page. It is the main identifier of the page and so you want to ensure your company brand is well distinguished.
- Background image… this is your online billboard and should represent a strong call-to-action of your business. Whether that be your website address or contact number, it must be clear what the user needs to do when they come across your business page.
- Populate the company about section, giving people more information about what you do, how you can benefit them and where to contact you.
Optimising your LinkedIn Personal Profile
Ensure to include these when setting up your personal profile:
- Keep in mind that this is where you want to put your best foot forward. In a lot of cases loads of time and other investments are put into fine tuning your company logo, tone of voice, brand identity, look and feel, product range, etc. All these elements also need to be considered when populating your personal profile.
- Firstly, have your actual name populated so people can find you. Or at least the name that is included on your business cards, on your website, etc. The name people know you by. This is to make sure that people can find you and know who you are.
- Then you would need to include your title. Now there is a lot of talk around including here what you can do for people, like in my case “I help people use LinkedIn effectively.” Personally, I’m not a fan of this because when I get a connection request from someone who uses this strategy in their title, I usually check these via my smart phone. What happens is, the title is shortened to fit on mobile so all I see is “I help people….” Which means you are pretty much doing the same thing as every other person using this tactic. Personally, I prefer that you include your actual title. What do you do so that I know immediately why you are contacting me or whether I should connect with you.
- Ensure to have a profile picture which clearly shows your face. I know most people opt for a more professional looking photo on LinkedIn of them in a suit, however I am not opposed to using a photo which represents you and your personality. Do keep in mind this should still be a clear and professional headshot, not a photo of you jet skiing or lying in bed, nor your company logo – I want to see who you are.
- Your background image is still your online billboard. If you are well linked to your business in other words, the MD or a Director, this can be used to showcase what you want people to do regarding your professional link to your business. That could be your company website address, your contact number, that you offer a complimentary assessment, are hosting a summit, etc. Use this advertising space as effectively as possible. If you are more focused on building your personal brand, ensure to include information about you that you want people to know. Your social media handles on other platforms, your blog site address, that you are a world-renowned athlete or top business mentor in your field.
- When populating your about section, you have roughly two lines before someone has to click “read more” so make sure you get to the point on what you want people to know about you within those first two lines.
- I would then recommend to populate your work history as best as possible, but also be discerning as to whether you would rather only update this from a certain point showing a timeline to bring you to the position you are in currently. What this means is doing a little bit of window dressing. Now I am not saying lie on your profile, but unless you are actively searching for a new job, it is best to put your best foot forward so that you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. In other words, if you flipped burger patties in college to pay for your tuition, it is not necessary to include this work experience. Rather just populate the degree you earned while at college. Your CV will cover all your work experience in detail which you will send out upon request and when you are in the job market.
How to Win on LinkedIn
So now the meat and the juice of how to use LinkedIn effectively. Your business and personal profiles will work symbiotically to drive positioning and thought leadership. The worst thing you can do is constantly talk about what you have to offer, in other words sell. Sending unsolicited and generic or blanket inMails telling people what you do quickly become redundant. Effectively, you want people to inMail you asking for your services. Here are my top tips to drive and populate your LinkedIn sales funnel.
Firstly, provide value. Update interesting articles on your personal page sharing industry insight, interesting tips or how-to’s. Now I know everyone is going to come at me saying that they don’t want to share their IP publicly because their competitors will scoop up this information and have an advantage. In response to this, don’t post your secret sauce, but there must be things that are pretty common knowledge in your industry amongst you and your competitors that your clients and potential clients may not know but would find of value or interesting. These are the insights I am referring to, like in this case I am willing to share with you how to win on LinkedIn with a few tips to improve your client experience when engaging with you and your company on social media, however I won’t share our secret sauce on paid advertising and targeting.
Also, you can share a link from your article posted on your personal page on your business page. Unfortunately for now, LinkedIn doesn’t offer the option to post articles on business pages but this is a nice work around.
With that in mind, keep your business page populated with interesting posts, ideas and offers of value to drive traffic to your website or to get in touch with you. You can then also share these posts onto your personal profile as it is more likely that you will have more connections on your personal profile than followers on your business page.
Secondly, make sure you engage with others on LinkedIn. From your personal capacity, like and comment on other people’s posts in your timeline. Share your views and opinions, politely – don’t get into heated discussions and please avoid posting or commenting on anything religious, political or sexual in nature. Use these comments to position yourself as a thought leader, the go-to in your industry.
On that note, if you get a seemingly negative comment on your post, don’t engage! Don’t feed the trolls. They are there and giving commentary in the hopes to illicit a response so don’t give it to them. They will quickly realise they get no kicks from you and move on to other unsuspecting prey.
Be discerning on who you connect with. This is not about not connecting with someone you don’t know, but if you get a connection request, have a look through their profile to get an idea of who they are and what they do to see whether there is value in you connecting, be that a client, supplier, referral, etc. The same goes when connecting with people. Rather choose to connect with people who are relevant to you and your industry as they are likely to post content that speaks to you, providing you with more opportunities to comment on their posts and show you to be a thought leader.
If you found this interesting and of value, I urge you to implement these changes to see what impact these tips could make to your personal and business pages on LinkedIn. We also offer more in-depth workshops regarding personal branding to really bolster your online persona as well as assist businesses with full-scope branding strategies for LinkedIn.
Please feel free to be in touch, should you want to talk more on this.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
If you read the title of this article, then you know the answer to this (presumably) burning question is yes! The questions that follow however are why and how?
Why Would a B2B Business Need to be on Social Media?
The short answer is that you, as a B2B company owner/operator, have come across this article through social media.
You did not find this article by searching through your social media platforms in the hopes of finding us. Instead, we found you because of clever targeting and an equally clever article title.
Our business too operates in the B2B space and so we completely understand the perplexity of the opening question. The point is that your customers, much like ours, are active users of social media since this space is fast entrenching itself into the way the world operates today.
We are sure that you have social media pages set up and their links imbedded on your website, so it is clear to say that you understand the necessity of these platforms. You might, however, not quite understand the hype, be totally sold on the presumed benefit or know how to use these platforms to build and drive a sales funnel.
And there it is again, the word sales. How on earth can one drive sales through social media? We will tell you…
How Does a B2B Business Drive Sales Through Social Media?
The very short answer is data. Rich data that has been gathered through all the years spent on social media providing insights into your ideal customer and then targeting them with the right content.
The longer answer is through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a business to business company can find their ideal prospect and then convert them into a long standing client.
But I already have long standing clients and my focus is to nurture and grow these accounts.
Much the same, through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a B2B company can communicate with their existing clients, building long term relationships, position themselves as a thought leader and drive growth within these accounts.
Although both approaches are similar, this is not a copy and paste. Each business requires careful thought and consideration when planning their social media strategy. This strategy needs to be aligned with the overarching business strategy so that those unique objectives can be met. Social media is simply another way to communicate with your clients and prospects and should be considered with as much investment as your sales teams, customer service center, marketing plans and business objectives.
Social media offers a platform for companies with niche products and services find and engage with their niche customers and clients, an opportunity that few other traditional marketing mediums can offer. The secret here is to seamlessly marry your business in the real world with your business online.
Since you have made it this far, perhaps you are interested in finding out more on how your business can win on social media. Let’s set up some time together to discuss this further since we are confident you are an expert in your field, we are experts in social media.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101