How to Succeed in Business with Social Media: Part 2
In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the origins of social media and how it came to be adopted by business as a powerful marketing tool. In this continuation, we'll examine some of the optimal strategies for using social media to build and promote a business or industry organization of any size.
In today's world, having at least one social networking account for your business is pretty much mandatory — and maintaining multiple accounts is better. Whether you are a sole proprietor working as an independent, or the VP of Marketing of a multinational corporation, the use of social media is an important component of your success.
Previously, we listed the social networks which the majority of businesses currently use to promote themselves. These social networks are:
Facebook and Twitter are large mainstream platforms which offer a variety of post formats. LinkedIn is aimed at working professionals, with a focus on employment seekers and companies promoting themselves as employers of choice. Pinterest and Instagram place a heavy emphasis on posting photos and other images.
YouTube is the top video sharing platform in the world, but maintaining a YouTube channel requires more time and resources than some small businesses have the budget for.
Google+ continues to limp along despite persistent reports of low usage numbers. The site tends to be used more for business-to-business (B2B) activities, and is arguably the least popular social network in our list.
We aren't going to drill deeply into what makes each of these social networks tick; such a discussion would take up a chapter (or more) in a textbook for a college marketing course. Instead, let's review two key concepts every business should keep in mind when planning its social media strategy: Brand Personality and User Engagement.
It's what you say ... and how you say it
When you look at a friend's or colleague's social media account, their feed often tells a story about their life. People who are active on Facebook (and there are reportedly 2 billion of them) will often use their accounts to show-and-tell who they are, describe what they do for work (and for fun), and showcase the causes they find interesting or important.
Establishing a business brand on social media is another form of storytelling. The story your business tells should inform people about what your business does, demonstrate why people should find your company relevant and worthwhile, and create a trusted connection between your company and customers.
This obviously involves posting some information about the products and services you offer — but social media should be leveraged to create a personality for your company's brand that is relevant to your target customer audience.
For example, the Twitter feed of a soft drink company is going to be very different from that of a landscaping business. Soft drink companies typically use a lighthearted and carefree tone in their posts, creating a brand personality that forges a connection between its products and youthful, active, fun-loving people.
On the other hand, a landscaping company would gear its social media posts towards mature home owners who enjoy relaxing outdoors on their property, maybe entertaining guests or settling in a lawn chair to admire their trees and gardens.
Establishing a brand personality on social media enables a business to do more than just promote its products and services. When done properly, a brand personality strengthens the storytelling aspect of marketing by making the story more dynamic through the use of a distinctive voice that stands out over others.
Creating a brand personality is an important component of social networking, but for it to be effective, the content you post must also be engaging. If your company's Facebook page is only used to post about upcoming sales, then users will tune out over time even if your brand personality is likeable.
Again, think about it in terms of storytelling. No one wants to hear the same story about what your newest promotion is over and over — users of social media want content that engages their minds, even if it's only for a few seconds. Having a strong brand personality won't help you if what you're saying consists of vanilla ad jargon.
Posting engaging content that's presented by a charismatic (and consistent) brand personality is the perfect formula for a business looking to achieve social media success business.
Social media courses and certifications
There are a surprising number of online courses and industry certifications available for tech seekers who want to specialize in business social media. Here are a few examples with a brief description of each program.
Mediabistro is a job listing and career site for media professionals. The company offers a number of independent social media online courses on subjects including analytics, content marketing, and social media video strategies.
Market Motive has been offering online courses in internet marketing training since its founding in 2007. Its Advanced Social Media certification is based on an extensive series of courses covering all of the prime social media knowledge points.
Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Social Specialist
This certification is based on the Social Studio software published by industry giant Salesforce. The related certification exam, consisting of 60 multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions, can be taken at a Kryterion test center or is available as an online-proctored exam you can take at home.