Lisa Miller is the director of Marketing for PSA Security Network, based in Westminster, Colo.
Social media is more than a buzz word, although it is indeed buzzing right now. We took a look at the broad scope of social media—the why, what, and how often—including the integrator perspective on why PSA Security Network integrators (Intelligent Access Systems of North Carolina, Dakota Security and March Networks) got involved and what it’s doing for their businesses.
Why participate—or better yet, why not?
No matter where you stand on whether it works or how much time you should spend investigating or participating, there is no question that you should have a presence in the social media world. It’s not going away! The key is to remember that, even if you and your company choose not to be online, everyone else is already out there. At the very least, you need to be monitoring what people are saying about you. The truth of the matter is that having a social presence is now expected by your customers and potential customers.
PSA Owner Ron Oetjen of Intelligent Access Systems (IAS) of NC, based in Garner, N.C., explained that for his company, “Social media is a way to reach customers and prospective employees on a different level. We are constantly reaching out to them with news about our company, new products, success stories, etc., and they get to view our posts on their schedule. Prospective employees get to get a real feel for the IAS culture by following us in the Web 2.0 world, which is great for recruiting!”
Dakota Security, Sioux Falls, S.D., another PSA Owner company, focuses online efforts toward increasing visitors to their website and converting them to leads for the sales team. Micah Carlson, director of Marketing, of Dakota Security stated, “We view social networks as a tool which allows us to broadcast our message to more people and drive more traffic to the home page.”
March Networks, a PSA Premier Vendor Partner located in Ottawa, Can., is active on a number of social media networks because partners and end-user customers are increasingly relying on social media as another way to get the information they need. Jeff Taylor, North American Channel Sales and Marketing Leader of March Networks explained, “We want to make it as easy as possible to do business with us and social media is part of that.”
In addition, participating in social media helps March Networks stays current on what’s happening in the industry. “News is almost instantaneous today and a lot of it hits social media before it’s shared elsewhere. Following our partners, customers, and various security industry associations and publications, allows us to better understand what’s happening in the industry. It gives us access to individual insights that we might not be privy to otherwise,” said Taylor.
Here are a few simple tips to remember when crafting social media messages.
Always keep your audience in mind. Don’t get so tied up in what you want to tell them that you forget to talk about what they really want to know. People aren’t waiting to be told what to do, they’re looking for shortcuts—the tips and tricks to make their lives and businesses run easier. The end goal can’t always be to sell something, but rather to focus on providing worthwhile content and developing a brand and reputation for sharing valuable information. Doing this tastefully will enhance awareness of your offerings and your reputation as an expert so when the need arises for your product, they’ll know who to turn to.
Don’t forget to incorporate some fun! Your message doesn’t always have to be serious. Social media is still about relationship development so having a little personality and showing your human side can be a very good thing.
Post often enough to show up in your audience’s feed daily. Tweeting twice a month will only ensure your message gets lost in the shuffle.
Be aware of timing. If you don’t know when people are looking for what you’re sharing, you’re missing a golden opportunity. Experiment with your social media endeavors. Post at different times of day and monitor engagement to figure out what day and/or time of day works best for your audience.
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.
Lisa Miller is the director of Marketing for PSA Security Network, based in Westminster, Colo. Visit www.buypsa.com.