Yesterday I had the chance to host a live broadcast with social media guru Brian Solis—our first Partner Velocity Virtual Engagement. In our hour-long session, Engage: How to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, Brian discussed the importance of building engagement with both current and potential customers through new social media tools.
Here’s a replay of our broadcast in case you missed it.
Want to learn the tips that Brian shared? Here’s a recap of our broadcast.
Brian started off the broadcast with some impressive social media stats. Currently, Facebook has nearly 600 million users around the world, Twitter has 200 million users, and 5 million users check into Foursquare every day.
So what do these numbers mean? In a nutshell, companies who think Facebook cannot be used to grow their business will essentially be left behind. Becoming relevant in new media isn’t just about playing in social networks, it’s about meaning something for your customers and trying to matter in a world where there is so much information. So how do you do this?
Brian offered some valuable advice and insight on how to create a social media strategy, engage with consumers, compete and stay relevant in this new era:
- Find your own answers. Don’t try to base your program on what others are doing in social media. You need to experiment and find your own answers. You need to make the case for your business in a way that’s relevant for the people you’re trying to reach.
- Failing to plan is planning to fail. You have to design your own social media strategy. Business intelligence comes from listening to your consumers and hearing what’s taking place in the market.
- Brand equity is the culmination of the experiences we share. Listen to what your customers are saying, and then use their input to design better solutions and products.
- The distance between you and your customers is measured by shared experiences. Social media is all about connecting individuals with other individuals, which results in conversation, people seeking insight, and people offering insight. By engaging in these conversations, your customers know that you’re listening.
- Trust is at the center of everything. You have to earn trust. It takes work and a hands-on approach. The biggest opportunity for B2B in social media is demonstrating thought leadership and expertise, not through marketing or collateral, but through good advice.
- The currency of social media is action. You want somebody to take action, and your job is to bring it together.
- The future of business isn’t created. It is co-created. What used to be marketing and advertising now has become social objects. It’s not defined by just you; it’s defined by shared experiences. Therefore, you must be involved in creating these experiences so that they’re worth sharing.
- Increase your thought leadership through media franchises. Package your insight based on the problems people have and the opportunities that people are already telling you, and then design and create around that.
- What’s the ROI? As you’re designing your social media strategy, you need to ask this question: What do you want to trigger? Then design a program around that so that you have something to measure.
After the presentation, Brian answered audience questions that were submitted via Twitter.
After I set up my Facebook and Twitter accounts, what are some ways I can engage with my customers?
Think of your social media tools as editorial channels. Your first step should be to create a content calendar-think of content that will rouse your audience. Remember that you are targeting different audiences (existing customers, potential customers, influencers, and so on), so you’ll have to use content that will cater to all of these different types of roles.
What’s a really easy way to get started in B2B social media?
There is no easy way- it’s hard work to get from where we are to where we want to be. However, an easy way to make the case to get into social media is by using tools such as Radian6 and Reasearch.ly. If you’re interested, Brian can also send you a listening matrix if you tweet him @BrianSolis-it’s essentially a tool that will show how conversations are impacting your organization.
How can I make my social media accounts stand out against my competitors?
It comes down to programming, engagement, and personality. You need to understand the voice, narrative, and character of your company, and then humanize it and bring it to life in the social media platform. Once you have that embodied and defined, then start to create compelling content.
How can I convince my company of the value of engagement via social media?
There are a lot of statistics out there that show how social media is helping companies to succeed and grow revenue. Use this research to plead your case for the value of social media, but also as a way to decide which social media tool is best for your company.
Do you recommend one dedicated person for social media, or should all employees be involved?
Social media impacts certain aspects of a company-sales, customer service, finance, etc. Anyone affected by this outside activity should have some sort of extension, be it listening or engagement. At the same time, you’re going to have to dedicate a community manager to monitor these channels and feed it back into the organization.
How do you foster customer trust within social media?
Customer trust is demonstrated first and foremost by listening. You don’t necessarily need to engage with every single person, but you need to show that what they’re saying is reaching your ears.
How can you bring more traffic to your social media vehicles?
You need to engage with influencers. Brian recommends not sending those you engage with to your website, but instead to a channel of relevance. Facebook is a very rich place as your social website, because the tabs are customizable and can be designed to steer different experiences.
What do you tell a veteran customer about Facebook being a relevant site to use?
Facebook’s greatest growth has been among 50 year olds and above, so it’s not a place for just kids. It’s a place for humanity, which is why there are 600 million users.
Is blogging still a relevant social media tool?
Yes, blogging is the place where you invest in the legacy of your brand and thought leadership. Blogging is the place where only an elite group of individuals will invest in capturing their thoughts, impressions, opinions, and the things that inspire them. As a blogger, it’s your job to provide your audience with content to consume, share, and curate. Also, have a presence in blogs that are defining your marketplace and contribute there as well.
Where does video fit into the social media mix and is it worth making a big investment there?
Video is important, but it’s defined by the consumption behavior of the audience you’re trying to reach. Relevant information in text seems to always outperform video, but if you’re in the market where something needs to be visualized, then video is absolutely a good investment. Giving people more ways to tell your story is a great thing.
The broadcast was certainly incredibly informative—I’m a big social media geek so I was excited I got the opportunity to chat with Brian and learn about his insights. Did you enjoy the broadcast? Got any follow-up questions for Brian? Please be sure to share in the comments.
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