When most people think of social media, they think of Facebook and Twitter. These two services have become almost synonymous with the concept of social networking. They’re certainly the most popular, with an estimated 750 million unique monthly visitors for Facebook and 250 million for Twitter. You will probably want to include them in your social media strategy. However, you should also look beyond the top social sites when mapping out your social media plan.
An effective social media marketing campaign is not just about reaching the greatest number of people; it’s about reaching the right people – the target audience for your services. To that end, smaller and more specialized sites may better serve your purpose. As an MSP, you’re looking to reach out to your customers and potential customers. There is a case to be made for the notion that the larger the audience, the more likely some members of that audience will be in the market for your services. That’s why you include those most popular services in your plan.
Of course, the social venue that’s right for your company depends on the customers you want to attract. You obviously want to appeal to a business audience; it’s unlikely all those stay-at-home moms and retired golfers on Facebook are looking for a managed services provider. On the other hand, even people who don’t need such services may know others who do and pass your information along. That’s another reason to engage in the “shotgun” approach as part of your social strategy.
However, a good multi-pronged scheme will also take a more targeted approach. If you’ve decided to specialize in a particular type of client (something I discussed in detail way back in 2011 in the article Is Specialization the Key to Success for MSPs?), it makes sense to get involved in social sites that are devoted to the field(s) in which you specialize, or groups on the general sites that are devoted to those specialties. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn users host many groups for people who work in healthcare, education, government, etc.
You have to do more than just reach people who work in those fields, though. You want to reach people who either have the authority to make decisions involving whether to start using managed services or to switch managed service providers, or those who have some influence with the decision-makers.
Should you focus on social sites that are frequented mostly by people in the IT business? It gets tricky when you’re trying to promote your managed IT services by interacting on social sites with the IT personnel within the potential client company. They’re obviously the ones who would best be able to evaluate the need for those services and help select or recommend the best provider – but your managed service may be replacing some of the duties that they, as IT professionals, have been doing themselves. When that’s the case, they are likely to see the procurement of managed services as a threat to their own jobs. In any social networking communications with or to those people, you have to be careful to frame your services in a way that shows them you can help to make their jobs easier, but not render them obsolete.
After you’ve decided on the social venues you want to use, it’s also important to keep tabs on trends in the social space. The cyberworld moves quickly, and new sites and networks pop up all the time, so don’t just decide to focus on a few social networks and stick with those, and ignore the latest and greatest. For example, Twitter was once at the top of the social heap, but today Facebook is way out in front, and Google+ has moved to second place while Twitter has dropped down to fourth (YouTube is second).
Speaking of YouTube, don’t fall into the trap of thinking social network posts should always be text only. Sites that make it easy for you to share photos and videos to get your company’s message across offer the opportunity to create social content that will really stand out from the crowd. There’s even the possibility of your clever poster or movie “going viral,” which can get you into the public eye in a big way.
Choosing your venue is a very important part of your social media marketing plan. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of assigning responsibilities and developing your guidelines and policies for posts to social sites. That’s what we’ll delve into when we come back for Part 4 of this series.