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6 Ways for Businesses to Do More (and Make More) With Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media


Author and social media guru Mark Fidelman shares his thoughts on the best social media strategies.

These days, most companies probably realize that social media campaigns are becoming an essential part of their marketing efforts, but few admit how difficult it can be to manage these campaigns. As we mentioned in our year-end round-up of social media winners and losers, using Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, and other social media outlets can either lead to fantastic success or embarrassing failure depending on the execution. Wanting to better illuminate the best practices and strategies, we reached out again to Mark Fidelman, social media expert and author of the new book Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social (Bibliomotion, 2012) to understand how social sites can help can companies better appeal to their consumers, employees, and business partners.

Choose Your Platforms Wisely
Examples like the ill-conceived #McDStories (NYSE:MCD) Twitter hashtag, which invited consumers and employees to air their dirty laundry, prove that poorly planned Internet marketing attempts can turn your company into a joke. Fidelman warns that that companies need to be wary in selecting how and where they choose to interact with consumers before they try to engage. He says that it's better to look for "communities where your customers are already congregating." If Facebook group pages or Twitter hashtags related to your products are popping up, it's a good indicator that adding an official social media presence could be a major advantage.

Start a Company Blog
Blogs managed by your staff can also help communicate news and features to your customers. A model to look to is, a blog run by Larry Hyrb, the director of programming for Xbox Live (NASDAQ:MSFT). The site frequently gives gamers an inside look at operations within Microsoft's Xbox division and has been the source of breaking news many times. Company blogs can also be used to voice commentary on the development of an industry, which can help a company maintain an image of being a knowledgeable authority in its field. For those unfamiliar with how to run a business blog, Fidelman advocates using the service Hubspot, which optimizes content for search engines and social networks. The service also offers tools in closed-loop analytics and marketing automation.

Ask Yourself These Three Questions
As a content creator himself, Fidelman believes that there are three things bloggers should consider:

First, will my prospects and customers care about this content? In other words, does the content make people think, take action, or want to share it with their friends? Second, do I need to interview or get an internal expert to support the content's premise? And three, how do I design into the content or content program a method to make it more shareable? The key is to present the information in creative ways that get it noticed.

Like many in the publishing world, Fidelman stresses quality over quantity, and warns against flooding consumers with uninteresting tweets or Facebook books. ((("average pieces" sounds vague here -- replace with or "general information"? -- I missed this. FIXED)))).
Form a Command Center for Social Activity
Another option is to create a social listening command center that is trained to react to both positive and negative activity on social sites. Doing so may help create a voice for your brand that consumers can identify with after you have developed a full picture of how they see your product. For inspiration, look to the team that monitors Taco Bell's (NYSE:YUM) Twitter account whose snarky posts have been featured on sites like Reddit and Imgur, helping to promote the brand.

Talk to Your Employees
Social media can be a great tool to organize and manage your employees if you pick the right outlet. While sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) are great for promoting yourself and your company, they currently lack the private atmosphere and data-sharing features needed to help teams communicate effectively. Services such as Yammer, Google Drive (NASDAQ:GOOG), and FairPoint Communications (NASDAQ:FRP) offer great tools that allow users to work on the same documents simultaneously and discuss projects from remote locations. In particular, Microsoft's integration of Yammer, its enterprise social network service, with the widely used Office Suite has made it a more effective instrument in company operations.

More importantly, Fidelman favors these programs for the higher level of control they offer companies, allowing only certain people to have access to the information they need at an administrator's discretion. These social media services also can give companies a useful analytical tool with which to gauge the efficiency of their own processes.

Send the Right Image to Business Partners
In the same way that social media can help companies market themselves to consumers, having a strong social presence can aid businesses in finding suitable business partners. According to Fidelman, a company's Internet presence can better help other organizations determine whether they want to do business with them or not. Fidelman believes that in the near future more networks will appear that will "bridge the gap between influencers and brands," and that things will be "less about marketing and broadcasting and more about deepening relationships with influential people in your industry and having them help you with a service or product or even a cause."
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