Manage your mission. Who manages the social media content (and how) will be dependent upon the organization. Usually, most of this activity falls on one person’s shoulders. In a small company that can make good sense, but in a larger company it’s often more effective to engage many staff and management personnel in contributing. The risk here is someone not representing your company the right way. You can combat that through the development of a plan (who can speak on the company’s behalf), policy (what are they allowed to say) and procedure (how should they go about saying it?). Train and educate all staff on the goals of your social media outreach. Don’t forget to marry your offline marketing efforts and big picture business strategies to your online efforts. It can (and should) have its own flavor, but still be consistent with your goals—don’t just start posting cat pictures, even if they’re cute and funny.
If it feels too big to manage this effort, there are a few options:
- Start small. Begin with one social site, consistently posting and monitoring until you’re comfortable enough to broaden your efforts to another tool without dropping the progress you’ve made or decreasing frequency on the initial site.
- Implement a tool that will work for your company depending on your price point and need for scalability (such as HootSuite, Sprout Social, TweetDeck, or HubSpot).
- Outsource your efforts to a marketing professional who can help align your marketing strategies and knows the security industry, such as Security Dealer Marketing.
Developing a goal for your social media efforts will help clarify where you’re heading and how to measure success. Are you just forging a path and looking for a specific number of likes/followers? Do you want to see growth on year-over-year interactions? Do you want to encourage engagement through clicking on active links, visiting your website, or increasing sales leads? In general, a target number of likes or posts tends to be a passive measurement and not a very good indicator of social media success, but can be a good starting point for a baseline goal of getting out there.
Make it the right message
What doesn’t work? Telling people over and over again to visit your website and offering nothing more. You need a compelling reason to require someone to land on your site, such as new content or features, consistently updated tips, upcoming events or education, etc. Otherwise, if they’re always landing on a stagnant home page, people will learn very quickly to stop clicking on your links. Inconsistent, infrequent, or irrelevant posts are also surefire methods to be “forgotten” by your audience. The whole point is to remain relevant and visible and that will produce returns for your company and brand.
Ron Oetjen found that IAS is successful at getting greater brand awareness out of their social media efforts. “We can be as big as we want to be in the Web 2.0 world or as small as we want to be. Fortunately for us, the new generation of employees believes in social media, so our brand is growing faster online. We really use social media to connect to our clients and prospects and to further our brand awareness efforts.”
Micah Carlson said that for Dakota Security, social media as a tool combined with a broader Web strategy contributes to demand generation and leads for the direct sales force.
For March Networks, openness is the return on their efforts. Jeff Taylor stated, “Social media allows us to be more accessible to our partners and end-user customers. It encourages questions that someone might not take the time to ask if they had to pick up the phone, but will go ahead and ask via Twitter, for example. We WANT that feedback and encourage it.” As an example, someone recently responded to one of March Network’s posts on Google+, which led to a good exchange about mobile access to information in general and about secure mobile access to video in particular. “That input led us to make an improvement on our website and also allowed us to share more about our March Networks cloud solution—which we’ve just launched and are beginning to publicize,” Taylor said.