Is social media a form of content marketing or a method of delivering potential leads to your content marketing. According to the folks at Hubspot, it’s a little bit of both.
As you might expect, Hubspot looks at social media from an inbound marketing perspective. They recognize that much of what companies post on social media is of their own creation and undeniably content. However, as there is much more to social media than a simple means of sharing content; it is an omnipresent representation of a company as well as a channel for communication between the company and its clients. This means, for example, that a company should not only be posting original content to its Facebook page, but should also be using its Facebook presence to promote other content such as white papers or ebooks. Social Media needs to be part of any successful inbound marketing strategy.
I also mentioned that Hubspot emphasizes Social Media as a means of communication with customers and potential leads. Customers may communicate complaints or praise to you through Social Media via a comment, Tweet or private message. This provides you with an opportunity but you must be careful with how you approach it.
Let’s say a customer posts a complaint about a service you provided in the comment section of a video you have just released. This is not a problem, it is an opportunity. If you reply to this customer with an explanation and solution it not only satisfies a current customers but provides a real life example of your excellent customer care. However, if this comment goes ignored or if you challenge it, the comment remains a problem with your service for all to see. Remember, Social Media interactions are extremely public displays and have the chance to be seen by millions.
Social Media is becoming a broader term every day as more networks and platforms open their digital doors. A question for your company should be which platforms to use, and how to use them. Each platform exists because it is different from all others in some way that users view as important. Thus, you need to utilize each platform differently. What makes a good Facebook post can make a very bad Tweet. A good guide to these various platforms exists in Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Social Media. This is a poorly named bit of content as it provides such a vast and complete explanation of how businesses should engage in social media that it is worth a read for all marketers, not just those who are Social Media “beginners.”
On a general level, I would like to break down how companies utilize Social Media into B2B companies, and B2C companies. I’ll start with a great example of a B2C focused business with a great Social Media presence, Great Divide Brewing Co. Not only does Great Divide brew my favorite beer in the world in my favorite city but they run pretty kick-ass Facebook and Twitter accounts. On their Facebook page Great Divide posts about their products and events but also shares content they believe that the beer drinkers who follow them will appreciate from beer enthusiast sites or even competing breweries. They may Tweet about many of the same things they post on their Facebook but it is always worded and presented entirely differently in order to best fit Twitter. They are also very prompt and friendly in responding to any Tweets sent their way. My favorite thing about the way they use both of these platforms is in the way they share customer experiences. It is a normality for them to ReTweet or repost photos and stories customers have tagged them and their beer in. The greatest advantage that can be gained from Social Media marketing is evangelism. Simply explained, this is when customers develop loyalty to your brand and voice it through social media either by sharing what you have posted or mentioning you in your own post. Social Media can allow your customers to market for you. It’s word of mouth times 10 to the X. By sharing customer experiences and regularly engaging with customers, Great Divide invites their followers to evangelize their brand.
My far less delicious but equally cool B2B example is Zodiac Aerospace. Where Zodiac truly cleans up is their LinkedIn page. This page has over 27,000 followers and brilliantly follows Hubspot’s 80/20 rule mentioned in my previous post. The real difference between Great Divide’s Facebook and Zodiac’s LinkedIn lies in the content selected for publishing. Zodiac publishes very research driven and serious content while Great Divide publishes short, fun and pleasant content. This is because they each have what Hubspot calls their “Buyer Personas” in mind while running their Social Media. This means that Zodiac posts content with awareness of what a buyer of a new airplane seat wants to see and Great Divide posts with beer drinkers in mind. A person looking for beer and a person looking for airplane seat designs are looking for content that is as different as these two products and thus use different platforms to find their content. Also, it’s worth noting that both companies have their company website on their Social Media platforms, inviting customers to move closer to those valuable conversion pages.
Social Media is just as dynamic as it is omnipresent. It requires regular attention and deliberate action and when done right can pay huge dividends to a business.