The Right Way to Go Social
Originally published: 03.01.21 by Kelly Borth
Make strategic choices about which social media platforms are best for your company.
Social media can be a great tool to help drive traffic to your company website, engage and develop relationships with new customers, existing customers and strategic partners such as vendors and media. Your content and conversations on social media can be powerful ways to communicate your brand.
But, do you need to be on every social media network? Do you need to be on any of them at all? The answer is usually somewhere in between and it’s worth researching to find outwhere to focus your social media efforts, how social media can benefit your business and how, exactly, to accomplish that. Social media can require a significant time investment, so it’s important to understand what
kind of returns you can expect before you dive in.
Typically, businesses narrow their priorities to maintaining two to five social networks. The tricky part, however, is knowing which social networks are most beneficial for your business.
Your Social Media Goal
The first step in your social media plan is to define your objective. What is it, exactly, that you want to achieve? How can social media benefit your company? Why is social media a better (or, at least, equivalent) channel for that goal than SEO or email marketing?
For example, if you have an e-commerce website and you want to promote your products and drive sales, you might want to develop a channel on as many social media networks as possible to get exposure with the widest possible audience.
But if your business is something more specific and niche-oriented — for example, custom control panel software for commercial installations or indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring systems — then you’ll want to consider what you really want to accomplish.
Are you trying to drive sales? Or is your goal to increase general brand awareness and educate your audience?
Getting clear on that first is critical, because all your subsequent decisions need to feed that overall objective.
Once you know what your goals are, you’ll need to figure out who you want to talk to on social media and which networks they are on.
Want to connect with media? Twitter and LinkedIn might be the best routes. Want to showcase your company’s philanthropic efforts? Add Facebook and possibly YouTube to Twitter and LinkedIn.
Are you a rooftop systems company with great photos of videos from high atop homes and office buildings? Instagram and YouTube (and maybe Pinterest too), will be your best bets.
In general, Facebook is typically great for engaging with your own employees, some vendors and the general consumer public. LinkedIn can also be ideal for vendors, prospective employees and potential customers.
Many reporters and journalists are on Twitter, so it is a perfect channel to build rapport with the media. If you are targeting customers and potential customers, some businesses have had success with Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Claiming and regularly updating your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business listings is almost always necessary for search engine optimization (SEO).
Make a list of the types of people you want to connect with and the kind of stories you want to tell them. This will help put some strategy behind your social media choices.
If you sell a product or service that is very visual, focus on a social media network that is also very visual such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
If your company is more business-to-business, LinkedIn is typically the most strategic, as many decision makers are active on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is also a great tool for sales people to use for networking and HR to use for employee recruitment.
HVACR installations and equipment can be slightly complicated, so consider hosting a YouTube channel with videos that show how it works. Share the videos on other social networks and on your website.
Look at other companies in your field, including your competitors and see what kinds of content they are posting and what is getting the most clicks, comments and shares. Note what gets very low engagement too.
Look at the accounts your customers already follow. Look at what kinds of things are posted by others in your target audience and what kinds of reactions they are getting.
Look for patterns in all this. You might see that short, explanatory videos get a lot of views, likes and shares. You might see that links to blog articles fall flat. You might see that when the CEO posts personal messages, likes and comments spike high.
All this information will help you make informed decisions about what to post.
Types of Content
Has your company already developed case studies or white papers? Share them on LinkedIn. Do you have a number of photos that capture your employees working or having fun? Create a gallery on your website and share it. Behind-the-scenes photos perform well on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Do you have captivating images of your work or products? Share them on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Be sure to also include an engaging caption and use a couple of relevant hashtags. Provide a link back to your website where the products can be ordered online or where prospective customers can request a quote.
Articles perform well on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you have a blog or a newsroom on your website, it’s a best practice to share your blog articles on all of your social networks to help increase blog traffic.
Company press releases also perform well on these channels. Make sure you write a captivating headline that will catch people’s attention and drive them to click your link. If you mention colleagues or partners in your blog or press release, consider tagging them. That ensures their networks see your post, too and they may re-share it, driving additional views, likes and clicks for you.
Niche Social Platforms
Many industries have their own dedicated social media channels — such as Sermo for doctors or ResearchGate for scientists. There are hundreds of industry-specific networks, some industries even have more than one.
HVACR has many online community boards devoted to it, you should seriously consider becoming active on it.
All the same rules apply — spend time watching how others are posting and interacting first, decide how the network can benefit your business or professional network, see what seems to drive engagement and what falls flat and then define what kinds of things you want to share that feel comfortable and authentic.
There are hundreds of social media networks out there that can help a business’s online marketing efforts.
When choosing which one to use, keep your goal, audience, content and industry in mind. Strategic choices reap the most rewards.