Social Media: Signs your prospects want to hear from you
Don’t ignore your customers and prospects by ignoring Social Media
When I am speaking about marketing automation and social media, I often hear marketers, executives, and customer service managers talk about how social media is not relevant to their particular brand or industry. While I am sure there are some cases that this may be true, I have seen time and time again when companies join the conversation late in the game, frustrating customers and missing out on opportunities. The later you join, the more opportunities are missed. And, conversations are perishable like seats on an airplane, since once they happen the value cannot be realized later, so it is important for you to be there when your customers and prospects are looking for you.
While I think this is understood by most B2B organizations, it is very hard to prove to organizations that there are opportunities being missed, hurting their potential marketing ROI. I have recently seen four examples that may illustrate when these opportunities are not being leveraged, and value lost.
People Talking about your Brand
This is the most obvious. Whether you are using a product like Radian6 to monitor your brand’s mention, or simply do a Twitter or Google search and see what people are saying, this is the clearest way to see that customers and prospects may want your input and information. If this is happening, now is the time for you to be involved. Simply monitor where your brand is being mentioned and try to participate on those sites.
Friends on Parked Names
Companies sometimes ‘park’ their company names on social networking sites before actually utilizing the functionality on that site. This means that they have reserved the company name so that no-one else takes that name for them, but are not active on that site other than reserving the name or posting up some basic company information. Often, when a company does this, they will find they are attracting friends and followers, without ever placing content on the site. When this happens, it means that people, whether it be customers, analysts, press or prospects, are looking for you to talk about your brand, and care enough about what you might say to seek out your presence on the site and watch your activity. If this is happening then you are missing opportunities. The action of being followed or friended means that someone is looking for you and wants to hear what you have to say.
Someone Speaking for your Brand
If someone takes over your name and speaks for you or about you it indicates that people are looking for information about your brand. Sometimes when this happens the speaker is saying positive things about your brand, sharing their knowledge and informing followers or friends about product enhancements or sharing their tips and tricks about your product. Other times, it may be because a user wants to complain about issues they have had about your product. If positive, you may want to continue to let this person talk about your company and support their message by sending them information about your products so they can provide the best and most up-to-date information possible. Those following the brand may prefer this genuine message from a user, and your company can find an alternative name to use for conversations. If the brand is being talked about poorly, you can try to sway the person talking about your brand so that they speak in a more positive way, or you may try to obtain the name from them from the social networking site. Regardless, the conversations that are being had are clear signs that people are looking for your company to say something, and that you should be joining the conversation.
Name squatting may indicate that your presence may be valuable on a social networking site. Name squatting happens when someone not affiliated with a company or brand reserves a name on a social media site so it is not available for you later. This can happen if a competitor wants to prevent you from utilizing a social media outlet, or if someone wants to try to sell you the user name on that site. In both cases, action can often be taken to obtain that name so that you can utilize the site, especially if your name or brand is trademarked. If the person who reserved this name did this because they saw that your brand was being mentioned and wanted to capitalize on that or prevent you from doing so, It may indicate your value in participating on that site. This is not as clear as the previous two, as it can also just be bad business practices driving this, and may not support the idea that people are looking for you online. In this case, look at how the squatter is using your name and if the name is being followed. This will help you understand the value your company may be able to provide on the social networking site.
If your brand isn’t being mentioned in any of these ways, or if it is still unclear to you if you should be joining the conversation, look at what competitors may be doing. See if they are utilizing social networks for marketing or support, or see if any of the leaders in your industry are finding any of the above topics to be true for them. If so, start a conversation, and see if others interact. Remember that those first to start the conversation often end up leading it.
For more tips on how to use Social Media, listen to our podcast: Using Digital, Web 2.0 Tactics To Boost B2B Marketing Results with Laura Ramos, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. In this podcast, she discusses how Web 2.0 tactics like rich media, blogging, RSS, and social networks help B2B marketers meet their top challenges.