The growth of online social platforms has been nothing short of explosive over the last several years. As we've watched both consumers and businesses flock to the online space, one of the greatest challenges is how to implement a holistic system that is capable of utilizing all the different areas of social technology. While almost all of us are familiar with the most popular social platforms and services, there are new ones appearing every day. With that being the case, it's almost impossible to keep up with every new service and every new network. There are just too many.
Fortunately, winning in the online social space is not about knowing every single new platform. For a business, it's about understanding what these trends represent, what they mean for how people research, talk and buy, and how a system can be established that utilizes these resources to their fullest potential.
All I ever hear about is Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!"
It's best to view social tech as three primary areas:
The first is social relevancy. Social relevancy deals with your visibility and reputation online. This includes what people see when they search for you, what others are saying about you and how credible you come across.
The second is social media. This is media that can be uploaded to the Internet and shared with different people. Think socially distributed media. This includes sites like slideshare, where you can upload PowerPoint presentations, and YouTube, Vimeo or Flickr.
The third is social networking. Social networking includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo and any other spaces where people can connect with one another online and share content and take part in a conversation. This is where most people's minds go when the topic of social media comes up.
but why is social relevancy so important?"
Social relevancy applies to both you and your organization. If someone hears about your company via word of mouth or an advertisement, they are likely to research your brand. By researching, we mean going to a search engine, typing your name, and clicking through to what they find. If you are in sales and you're the one interfacing with the client, chances are good they'll research you as an individual. You would like to think that if someone is searching your brand name they're only looking for your website. As long as your website shows up, everyone will find what they're looking for. But it's far from being that exclusive. Your website is a showcase of what you say about yourself. When people search your brand, they are looking for what other people are saying about you. A big difference.
Is your business represented well, if at all? How about the individuals who are the interface to the client? Not only will people research your brand but the individuals that represent you. We know from our own web analytics data that 53% of Virginia visitors who came to webstrategiesinc.com over the last three months searched either our brand or our names. Are all of those existing clients? Far from likely. Were some of those doing their research on who we are? Much more likely. The traffic and volume we can see through our web analytics only shows people who clicked through to our site. You can be certain our LinkedIn pages or personal websites which are present in search results shared some of this traffic. Especially if these people were interested in more than our own website will tell them.
Ever consider how well you are represented? How about your brand? Next time you follow up with a prospect, be aware they've likely checked you out online. Are you satisfied with what they could have seen? Do you think it sent the proper message if it sent one at all?
Social Technologies to Enhance Current Customer Experiences
We tend to get caught up in only wanting to use a social technology as a way to acquire a new client. But consider the cost of having to go out and get a new client versus the cost of maintaining an existing one. Studies have shown it costs anywhere from 5 to 10 times more to acquire that single client than it does to keep the one you already have. So why should we always obsess with acquiring new clients instead of finding ways to turn our existing ones into raving fans who then become our brand advocates?
A homebuilder can use cloud-based services like 37signals to show a new homeowner how far construction is and where time and resources are being spent. An organization can use a Facebook Group to privately share media, links and post updates with a large group of people and then have that information get syndicated via email and Facebook's news feed. A B2C company can use any number of tools to instantly know when someone posts a review about their product - allowing them to respond if the situation warrants it. With this kind of transparency and humanization of a brand, you are doing something remarkable - that is, doing something your clients will want to make a remark about. This generates brand advocates and facilitates electronic word of mouth.
Social Technologies Aren't Only Applicable to the Client Side of Your Business
Social technologies aren't simply marketing tools, existing for the sole purpose of either acquiring new customers or improving the experience for existing ones. Dozens and dozens of social tools exist online (many of which are free) that can better facilitate collaboration between groups and building the intellectual capital of your team. The same type of cloud based software solutions that can be used to increase transparency for existing clients can also be used among team members when collaborating and sharing documents with one another. This can be especially useful for teams that work in virtual environments or are spread out in different geographical locations.
Finally, it's a knowledge economy, and the smarter people win. The amount of information that's published for free every day was unheard of prior to the advent of the Internet. Any organization that's serious about cultivating an environment of innovation and relevancy needs to learn how to utilize these resources for the members of its teams. Individuals now have the ability to create rivers of information into their own minds…on a daily basis…for free. Creating a river of information that includes blogs and news sites allows individuals to stay on the cutting edge of what's new, what's relevant and what's important.
different areas of Social Technology into our business?"
Depending on the current state of your organization, embracing social technologies can be a moderate to significant paradigm shift in how your teams operate and how business is done on a day to day basis. This makes a structured, measured implementation process vital if all areas of social technology are to be embraced.
If you're interested in knowing more, our own Tara Lappe has written a fantastic blog post on the 12 step process we use to implement the different areas of social tech into an organization. Please don't hesitate to ask questions in the comments or reach out to any of us if you want to know more.