Fourteen top tips: The perks and pitfalls of social media in business

Free twitter badgeImage via Wikipedia

Following advice from the session presented by Catherine Frethey-Bentham, the top tips (not in any particular order) for businesses wanting to use social media include:

  1. Focus on a marketing strategy; i.e. figure out your aims before jumping on board with all the tools (sounds familiar) 😉
  2. Listen to your customers, and have people who respond to queries and comments immediately
  3. Make people the experts…don’t market at, market with
  4. Allow people to speak about your brand – sometimes in a negative way. You need to be able to respond to that in a positive way and use it as a springboard to improvement
  5. Use videos – people are much more likely to watch them through to the end
  6. Be yourself instead of fully trying to control your image
  7. Consider focussing on ‘small acts’ rather than large campaigns
  8. Bear in mind that people are busy – put the important points at the beginning of a blog post for example
  9. Shift from being ‘hard to reach’ to ‘available everywhere’
  10. And remember that social networking does not replace marketing
  11. Make sure that you respond to comments or queries, and to ask and answer questions
  12. Use a friendly casual tone. The idea is to ‘get talking’.
  13. Retweet and re-post – a good way to engage followers
  14. Don’t spam people with company-related information.
“Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships. Don’t engage in ‘premature solicitation’. You’ll be a better networker if you remember that.”
Dr Ivan Misner (author & founder of BNI).
Internet Marketing Strategy Using Search Engin...Image by hongxing128 via Flickr

People like to be engaged. They like to have a conversation, and be listened to. The idea therefore is to build a narrative or occasion that people want to become engaged in – that they identify with and want to become a part of…that they want to be related to. Something that is fun…has an emotional aspect. Catherine showed us the example of the Colgate mini wisp campaign where people sent in pictures of themselves, played an associated game, and interacted in various ways – they had 1.6 million views of the campaign. They learned the value of what engagement is. Colgate is now wanting to expand the campaign and continue to actively measure the ‘value’ of engagement.

Catherine moved on to talk about the NZ Consumer views on social media marketing 2010 – 57% feel better served by socially engaged companies 56% feel more engaged; and 51% want companies to interact with them using social media. On the whole 25-50% of people want companies to interact with them using social media. In NZ about 72% of people are on Facebook, but the use of Bebo is declining rapidly. LinkedIn only has an uptake of 8%. You Tube has been accessed by 76% of NZ-ers; 14% use Twitter, and 38% have read and/or written a blog.

Research on Iran. by Negar Mottahedeh Social M...Image via Wikipedia

A recent survey from 2100 companies by Harvard gave the top 10 benefits of social media to a business, which included:

  1. Increased awareness of an organisation
  2. Increased traffic to website
  3. Greater favourable perception op a brand
  4. Increase in new business
  5. Identification of new product or service opportunities

The ‘but’ is 75% of companies did not know where/whether their most valuable customers were talking about them. Only 7% of companies were able to integrate social media into their marketing activities, and nearly a third do not measure the effectiveness of social media.

BUT – social media is not for every business, especially if you:

  • Are a struggling business requires all of your attention
  • Have little experience on the web
  • Have no marketing plan
  • Have no implementation budget
  • Have no on-going commitment

Risks include:

  • Too much time maintaining the presence
  • Downtime risk
  • Social media page under someone else’s control
  • Brand issues and negative feedback, for example a negative You Tube video that goes viral

How do you measure success with social media?

  • Decide what you want to measure: E.g. exposure. search engine rank, unique visitors
  • Engagement? E.g. page views etc.
  • Action?

Google Analytics were recommended as one way or measuring, and others mentioned were Hootsuite
Tweet feel, Tweet reach, Sentiment Metrics, and to check out your personal brand name (go and reserve your domain name). A final recommendation of more information around the subject was the online (free) publication What’s Your Personal Marketing Strategy by Sumitra Dutta.

Thoughts about the presentation
Non Profit Content Marketing StrategyImage by Russ_Henneberry via Flickr
This event was organised by The Auckland Executive Club whose membership is aimed at senior management, business women and aspiring business women, and women with specialist skills. The speaker of the evening was Catherine Frethey-Bentham who is spoke about how marketers can use social media to their advantage, and how to measure the usefulness of social media campaigns.

Interestingly, a quick search showed that although Catherine has a Scribd and a Slideshare account, she has nothing uploaded…and I was unable to locate a Twitter or LinkedIn account 🙂

It was a an engaging start to the presentation where Catherine walked the walk, and opened by asking the audience to vote on what they would like her to talk about, ranging from a video about what social media is, tips for using social media, and the benefits that social media can offer a business. The audience chose about 5 of the 9 options – a great, inclusive way of engaging the audience in the process.

She then moved on to show one of the videos that give some of the facts and figures about social media and social networking. It was awesome to see how the audience was absorbed by the video – music and images really capture a wide audience, and inspire people to think in different ways. There were several side discussions about the points raised (“only 14% of consumers trust advertisements”, for example!).

Overall it was a useful introduction for anyone who is not familiar with social media and its possible impact on business growth. It was an engaging presentation, that was relevant and a number of practical tips and tools to take away – just right for the audience I think, and well worth attending.

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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