Social media is more than just a trend, or something teenagers use to share gossip and memes. It’s a legitimate, and increasingly critical business tool. Where networking events were once the best means for companies to promote themselves, the Internet has blown that idea wide open.
Where networking was confined to four walls and a limited capacity, social media offers countless channels and infinite reach. If that sounds enticing, that’s because the opportunities are that juicy. On the other hand, social media isn’t cake. It takes hard work, a smart marketing team, and strategy.
As anyone in branding should know (and if you don’t… perhaps you should head over to Hubspot or Skillshare for a little refresher), launching active social media profiles is in any brands best interest—even if it initially may counter-intuitive based on the industry you’re in. Bringing traditional elements into a digital space actually gives you a competitive advantage, and is a great way to connect with industry insiders across the country.
Here are a few reasons you should consider upping your social media game, especially if you’re in the B2B space.
Stay ahead of industry trends
If you want your business to grow and thrive, market insight is key. Social media is all about what is happening now, what is trending, what is or isn’t garnering interest, and tracking all of the above and more in real time. By managing social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, your company hooks into the pulse of the Internet, and all of the data it harnesses. This is beyond valuable when it comes to marketing your products and services and forming new connections.
Now, I know that the above sounds like a glorified search engine, so let me make my case:
I understand that social media gets a bad reputation. However, most don’t realize that sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are filled with like-minded professionals and budding thought leaders ready to learn from, engage with, exchange, and share your content with others. It isn’t all puppy pics and political rants. Connecting with those key influencers will truly get your hands on the pulse of industry trends.
Give your business and personal brand an online footprint
Your business might have a great presence in its neighborhood, city, or even state. But online presence is increasingly important, especially as more people turn to the internet for information, whether it’s on where to do business, what to buy, or where to work. Social media allows you to tell your story, establish a voice of trust, and become a resource for Googlers and Tweeters near and far. Even better, it facilitates conversation, education, and can convert readers into loyal followers.
The same goes for your personal brand -- you might be popular at your dinner table or at trade shows, but can you say the same for the internet?
Owning online real estate is just as critical as any physical space, and of course, the richer your properties, the more valuable they become (in Googles eyes, at least). By creating, optimizing and managing an online presence, you’re taking one big step forward to owning your online real estate (aka the first page of search results).
My mantra? If your first page of search results can answer any question a current/potential customer, investor, or colleague may have, that’s the best (and cheapest) kind of marketing you can get!
Create new opportunities
Networking is all about making connections; social networking, facilitated by social media, is the same. It can be a great tool for promoting careers within your company, thereby recruiting new colleagues, or for finding new customers and business partners you might have never rub shoulders with in real life. It takes more than a tweet to form a meaningful connection, but it can still be the catalyst of something great.
It’s also key to engage with your current customers, partners and colleagues and facilitate conversation between them. Why? When those future colleagues and partners are researching you, they’re going to trust and rely on an outsiders perspective more than anything. The copy on your website may be descriptive and engaging and the content on your YouTube interactive and relevant, but what your colleague tweets about working for your company once will have more weight than all of your perfectly-branded content combined.
Share experiences and expertise
By building your brand, staying on top of industry trends, and making new connections, you’re creating a perfect storm of new opportunities to share what you’re learning along the way in addition to what you already know.
Making yourself and your unique thoughts visible in the social media arena helps up your credibility in both the real and digital worlds. How do I propose you do this? Well, for starters, think about how you might prepare yourself for an event…
You probably make sure you’ve got fresh business cards printed, a list of contacts you want to get face time with, sessions or booths you’d like to visit, and maybe an old client you’d like to grab coffee with. Just as importantly, you should be:
• Finding and following those you hope to connect with on-site on LinkedIn and Twitter, providing an opportunity to start engaging with them in an organic way so they’re just as excited to connect with you as you are them
• Research the official event hashtag and make sure you’re using it in your posts to help increase your visibility and chances of being seen by key industry influencers
• Set a cadence for yourself and stick to it to keep your thoughts visible and interesting online, whether it’s once a day, once a session, or live posting throughout the entire event, create a frequency your followers can depend on and get excited about!
These are just a few of many benefits that come with smart social media management and marketing. While I'll always believe that face-to-face time will never be old fashioned (after all, it takes more than a text to form a relationship), it’s clear that social media as an add-on can lead to growth and opportunity no matter what industry you sit in.
-Megan Bradley is the Social Media Strategist for IHS Markit. Connect with Megan on LinkedIn.
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