Gone are the days of companies considering if they should utilize social media in their efforts to connect with key audiences. Now the question of if has evolved into a question of how.

How can we do social media better?

Ways in which you can begin this process of improvement is to re-examine some of the myths of social media that still exist within companies who are new to using social media. This ‘rethink’ will help you improve your social media efforts.

Before engaging on any social media platform, it is important to understand your company’s social media policy and specific industry regulations. For example, the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC) expects every company to implement a risk-management program to assess and manage the potential risks regarding the use of social media.

Myths of Social Media #1:

A company needs to be active on all of the top social media sites

Like many, I believe in focusing your efforts where they are most effective. This thought remains true for social media. To best serve your audience, you must know your audience. A company never needs to be on all social media sites; however, you may want to claim and brand the top sites, so you will be ready in case your social strategies change or evolve.

RETHINK
Consider social platforms where your key audience will be active, so you can effectively engage with them. Ask some questions to narrow which platforms are best, based on your industry.

  • How does the content on this platform allow me to engage with my core audience?
  • What is the demographic of the audience on this social platform?
  • What additional benefits may we incur by using this social platform?

Choosing to be active on fewer social media platforms – but also doing more with the social sites chosen – will help focus your energy where it’s best suited. ‘Less is more’ in social media.

Reflect on your company’s function in the industry and how each platform may help you achieve your strategic engagement goals. Always try to talk yourself out of using any new channel, but if it’s difficult to do so, chances are the new channel is worth exploring.

Myths of Social Media #2:

Social media is best used to gain new customers in the industry

Social media is NOT most effective as a sales tool; in fact it should never be approached as such. In many cases, your primary audience on social may already be current or past customers.

RETHINK
Social media needs to be viewed as a tool for cultivating customer retention and increasing brand loyalty. If your audience is engaging with you on social, chances are they are already customers and/or brand advocates. Yes, you may pick up new followers on different platforms, who may later become your customers. But the goal of using social media should really be about strengthening existing relationships with current customers and brand advocates. Reward your audience’s loyalty with engagement, insights, quality content and incentives. In doing so, you allow for increased opportunities by encouraging your audience to share the messaging you have with others outside your immediate circle, delivered by brand advocates, not you.

Myths of Social Media #3:

Negative feedback or complaints will ruin my company’s reputation

Social media is always a two-way street. Negative feedback or complaints are bound to happen, but never ignore these comments. Arguably, social media is the perfect platform to engage your B2B or B2C audience effectively when it comes to feedback, good or bad.

RETHINK
Social media for your company opens the door to dialogue opportunities with your audience. Not all initiated dialogue will be positive, but it is important to understand that receiving negative feedback on social media will not ruin your company. There are a few steps you can take to ensure you are handling the situation properly.

  • Have in place a corporate policy that addresses the process for response.
  • Respond to feedback quickly – speed is everything on social
  • You don’t have to solve the problem immediately, but you need to respond to the concern raised
  • Follow up and review outcomes

Social media allows you to reach out directly and let those with concerns know that you care, you are listening and that you are working to resolve the situation to the best of your ability. With the advent of social media, the bar for customer service has been raised, and this should be viewed as a positive. How a company responds to adversity on social media can help mitigate any residual risk going forward. Consider every complaint as an opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.

Myths of Social Media #4:

You should primarily speak about your products and services on social media

Most people understand that the ultimate purpose of social media is not a soapbox to stand on and directly advertise your products or services. Creating communities and building relationships is why social media is of value.

RETHINK
It’s not to say that you can’t make mention or share aspects of your business that serve a larger goal. Think education. There is great value in offering your audience content that helps them succeed. Creating content marketing pieces that relate to your business, but are not always about your business. Make the content you share on social about your customers, not your products. Social media should be the platform from which you create community and trust with your audience, which helps them succeed in the industry. Providing valuable products or services that are industry-focused is just one part of a positive social community.

Social media is an excellent way to stay front-of-mind with your audience. Now we need to rethink how we can do it better. Hopefully rethinking these four myths will increase your social media success.

What other myths of social media you have encountered? I would love to hear them.

Ben Smidt, MA

Ben Smidt - MGIC Digital Marketing Program Manager

Ben Smidt serves as MGIC’s Digital Marketing Program Manager. He leads corporate development and management of MGIC’s digital marketing strategy. This includes establishing a clear vision for all digital marketing initiatives and providing strategic direction for the company’s social media marketing efforts. His primary goal is to increase brand awareness and improve user experience (UX). Additional responsibilities include PPC budget strategy and management of ad spend.

In addition to the insurance industry, Ben has a combined 10 years of experience in computer software, education and publishing industries. His focus has always remained in the area of education and digital marketing for media and technology.

He holds an MA from Marquette University in media channel effectiveness and digital communications, as well as a BS from UW-Madison focused in communications. He resides with his wife, daughter and son in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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