Every company, regardless of size, is tackling the question of what role social media should play in their business communications strategy.
There are plenty of success stories around already of how social media is a cost-effective communications tool…both for sales and marketing as well as customer communication. It seems like a no-brainer then that most if not all companies should have at least some social media presence in this day and age, right?
Well not according to Jeffery Pilcher at The Financial Brand. In a blog post today, Pilcher argues against small to mid-size companies utilizing social media. Granted, Pilcher was talking directly about financial institutions, but his logic, it would seem, would be extended out to all small businesses because he doesn’t make any argument that is specific to the banking or financial industry.
Pilcher’s take on social media is that it is a tool to monitor when people are speaking about you so that you can adequately respond and engage them. However, he argues that the number of mentions of small to mid-size companies is negligible and therefore a social media strategy is a waste of time and resources.
If that was all social media was useful for, I may agree with his assertions. However, Mr. Pilcher is leaving out a HUGE opportunity in his assessment of the benefits of social media. He speaks of using social media as a solely REactive medium. Listening for people to talk about you and going out and engaging them and answering their questions. That is important but that isn’t the only business-use for social media.
How about the PROactive side of the equation? That is completely ignored in his analysis. Now, after spending 15 years in financial services I am aware that there are strict regulations on marketing in that business and so for Pilcher’s audience there are additional hurdles to anticipate before proactively using social media, but they are not insurmountable–and for most other businesses they are non-existent.
Social media should be a two-pronged strategy. Yes, listen…listen first before you speak, always! But you should also initiate via social media. It is a viable avenue for communicating to your existing clientele about new products and resources; about educating them on better ways to do things and to gain greater benefits from your products; or just to keep their relationship with your business top of mind by letting them know that you appreciate them and their relationship with your company.
What is wrong, for example with a small bank passing along a news item about new banking or tax laws to their followers? That is important and timely information that, while maybe not the sexiest story in the land, may have real value to their everyday lives. That is just one simple example of a proactive use for social media. There are hundreds more.
Lastly, garnering a solid, proactive relationship with your clients creates a strong bond between you and your clients and a client that is happy with the relationship that they have with a company is extremely likely to tell their friends about their experiences with that company. Thus, the Raving Fans (affiliate link) principle–have your clients so happy with their experiences with your company that they start telling their friends about you and what a great job you do; thus doing your marketing for you.
How are you as a small business utilizing social media? Are you being only reactive?