In the last post, the importance of having a blog was discussed and how commonly available marketing materials such as press releases can be reused as content. In the next three posts, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ will be explained. These are current, common, and simple social media services.
First, a follow-up comment on the last post. A company called Prosig was used as a positive example of the use of simple social media tools: a great website, a blog, a Twitter feed, LinkedIn updates, and Google+. I went to their website and requested their free Noise and Vibration Handbook. A form was provided and I filled out my contact information. I then saw an interesting product that I thought a colleague would be interested in and requested information providing technical details on his application. The same form was presented again, requiring reentry of my contact information. Several days later, there was still no response from the company. There was no confirmation of the requests, no email, no phone call, nothing. If you spend valuable resources to create a social media presence and do not respond to direct requests like these, why bother? Even worse, potential customers may think, “if this is the communication before the sale, what kind of support will be provided after?” It is worth taking a moment every month to confirm that the feedback from these tools is being acted on promptly. Maybe the problem is technical, maybe organizational, but sending a test message through the system should insure that the entire process is working properly. Remember, social media is not a substitute for effective sales and marketing practices.
The first simple social media tool to be discussed is LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be very complex, but it is easy to start with a simple subset of their features. First, create an account, compose your company profile, and begin the process of developing your LinkedIn network. LinkedIn holds your hand through these basic steps. Be aware that it takes time to create a network. To speed up the process, contacts can be invited to your network by allowing LinkedIn to scan your email contacts. LinkedIn seems trustworthy and this can be an easy way to start. You can also join your industry’s LinkedIn groups by searching for them using the box at the top of the LinkedIn website and selecting groups. You will be surprised at how many specific niche technology groups exist.
Finally, once your profile is created and your network begins to grow, create a Company Page by reading LinkedIn’s instructions (http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1561). This will allow your customers and potential customers to follow your company and get your status updates directly. Status updates are easy to post and can link to your existing blog entries. Conversely, on your blog, put a link to your LinkedIn Company Profile. If you are using WordPress, the Social Media Widget from Blink Web Effects (http://blinkwebeffects.com/) is simple and works well.
I realize that this does not sound simple, but it is worth the effort. LinkedIn has a great system for organizing status updates that encourages professionals to actively follow professionals. Their IOS apps are excellent and highly rated so your customers can also get your updates from their mobile devices. I have been amazed over the years at how my network has grown “organically” to over 100 very specific, niche technology focused contacts. I actually enjoy seeing my connections expanding their networks as they develop their careers and capabilities. If you are willing to make the effort, your customers might feel the same about you and your company.
Next time, the role of Twitter in simple social networking will be explored. Despite being around over 7 years now, it is still evolving and a few simple guidelines can make it an effective addition to a social media toolkit. Also, another friendly reminder to please take a moment to go to elephanttech.com and sign up for our free email newsletter. It contains material not found in these posts, only goes out every couple weeks, and we never sell or share our email list.