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4 Ways to Maximize Use of Social Media Tools

Originally published: 09.01.12 by Scott Klososky

They aren’t just for marketing. Think of efficiency and cost savings.

If you want to be a master of social-media tools, you first need to understand the need to implement elements of social media that will both drive revenues and cut back office costs. Too many people think of social tools for sales and marketing only, when in reality, there are valuable uses in the back office. Here are four ways you can maximize your company’s use of social media tools: 

1. Build efficient rivers of information. One of the least-talked-about dynamics of social technologies is the massive amount of information flying around the Internet on any subject, including from HVACR equipment producers, trade associations, training and skills-development businesses and groups, and even general-business knowledge media.

I estimate the average professional will harness maybe 3% of what could be valuable to him. Social media tools such as RSS feeds, search-engine alerts, and Facebook and LinkedIn group alerts give us the ability to aggregate and filter this explosion of information. (For more information on RSS feeds, see Publisher Terry Tanker’s January 2010 column, http://digital.hvacrbusiness.com/hvacrbusiness/201001 - pg5.)

Every organization can institutionalize this process by teaching employees which information sources are valuable, and what tools

can be used to aggregate and filter them to a manageable state. It is a knowledge economy after all, so the smarter teams win. 

2. Creating a desirable online “voice.” Every organization can benefit from building a powerful, web-delivered organizational voice. There are many channels through which this voice can be delivered, i.e., blogs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, text messages. This voice creates a conversation with customers. The only way to earn the right to a customer’s time is by providing a valuable flow of content that supports the company’s voice, i.e., brand. 

The three biggest mistake I see companies making when using tools such as blogging, Twitter, and Facebook to connect with customers/prospects/clients are:

  •  Lack of a specific and human-sounding tone. Every communication through whatever channel you use must sound human and have a tone that is interesting, intriguing, or unusual. You don’t want to read boring things, so why would you think your constituents will?
  •  Mistakes with the frequency of delivery. If you deliver content too often, you annoy people, and they begin to tune you out. Even if your content is great, it becomes overwhelming, and people just stop paying attention. If you deliver content too infrequently, they lower the perceived value in their minds. 

What is the perfect frequency? It depends on the audience, and the type of content. There are no hard-and-fast rules. For example, if your area is going through an extreme-weather period — as much of the country did this summer — it makes sense to up the frequency of “how-to-deal” information that you send to customers via social media. Just be sure to ratchet the frequency back down when the weather gets back to normal.

  •  The mix of content is wrong. Be mindful of delivering nuggets that are valuable. For example, if you fill 80% of your content with sales-related information, it appears to be spam. If you do nothing but deliver your opinions, people might get tired of the editorial. A valuable stream of content includes a mix of stories, facts and figures, and links to valuable resources, opinions, and product or company information. Get the recipe wrong, and it is akin to dumping too much cayenne pepper in the soup. It’s ruined.

3. Managing your online reputation. Regardless of the size or type of business, an online reputation is forming, like it or not. Internet users (which now number more than 2 billion) are increasingly sharing their opinions about service providers and retailers through conversations and comments online. Every time they mention your company, or your products’ names, these comments become searchable. That means that when any prospective customer searches to find information on you, they will find these comments. 

For this reason, organizations must have today a formal online-reputation-management program. The steps are simple: Build a listening process, document and engagement policy, and then implement a measuring system.

4. Crowdsourcing content development and other services. Crowdsourcing is like outsourcing but you often don’t know the individuals doing the work. It’s a group that is contributing the product or service, whether voluntarily or as part of a fee arrangement. This is a relatively new concept for small and medium home-services businesses, but it is one that will likely become more popular for content creation.

For example, one large public relations firm just announced an agreement with a digital-video crowdsourcing organization so that it can provide access to a wide variety of pre-generated online videos for client websites. Another way crowdsoucring has grown is companies using a group of software developers to create on-the-fly customized coding for unique applications.

The main benefit of using a crowdsourcing model is that you have access to a body of knowledge or skills without having to take on direct overhead costs. (Some examples include CrowdSPRING, 99designs, logo tournament, Innocentive, mturk, etc.)  

Many contractors are investing time and money in social media development. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about marketing. Social media tools can help you to run a better business, too.

Scott Klososky, a former CEO and author of the books, Enterprise Social Technology and The Velocity Manifesto, helps organizations thrive, leaders prosper, and entire industries move forward through his unique perspectives on technology, business culture, and the future. More information is available at www.klososky.com.

Articles by Scott Klososky

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4 Ways to Maximize Use of Social Media Tools

If you want to be a master of social-media tools, you first need to understand the need to implement elements of social media that will both drive revenues and cut back office costs.
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