Today, there are more than 900 million active users of Facebook, 140 million active Twitter users and 160 million LinkedIn members. If social media is a secret, it’s quite possibly the worst kept one. That said, a perusal of a lot of MSP sites shows that scant few have a well-established social media presence. Should more MSPs be pursuing social media initiatives? If so, what do they need to do to get started?
If you decide to pursue a social media initiative, following are a series of steps to follow that can help ensure you get your social media efforts off on the right foot.
Step #1: Secure Your Name on Social Channels
Start by signing up on all key social channels, even if you don’t plan to use them right away. If possible, try to establish naming consistency across channels, which can help make it simpler for interested parties to track your company down across its various channels.
Step #2: Determine Goals
Next, it’s important to specify what you want to accomplish with your social media initiative. Establish concrete goals: what do you want to accomplish and how do you measure results. You can begin by measuring such metrics as website traffic, blog views, visits to your company’s LinkedIn page, and so on. On a monthly basis, measure progress against your objectives, assess the time and effort invested and adjust your plan according to what you learn.
Step #3: Determine which Channels to Participate In
There are inherent synergies to be enjoyed when coordinating efforts across multiple social channels, which can ultimately maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. That’s why I’d suggest, at minimum, hosting a blog and participating in LinkedIn, Twitter and SlideShare. However, you ultimately need to determine what the right mix is given the skill sets, target markets, resources and team members you have to work with, and commit fully to those channels selected.
Step #4: Take Inventory of Your Resources
To streamline efforts and maximize effectiveness, take stock of your existing resources and figure out ways to repurpose them. For example, if you have presentations that provide useful background information, update and tailor those slides for your target audience and distribute them on SlideShare. Once you’ve evaluated the resources available, you can identify gaps and establish priorities for future asset development.
Step #5: Establish Your Content Mix
As you engage in social media, it is important to determine how much new content you need to create and how much you’ll curate—that is, sharing others’ content. The right mix will largely be based on the resources and skill sets within your organization. While it can be highly advantageous to create new content, there are merits to curation as well. For example, when curating others’ content, you can gain association with great resources, which can help establish you as an industry authority.
Step #6: Give Your Social Presence Visibility
It’s critical that you make it easy for your target audiences to find you and share your content on social channels. Once you’ve established your presence on various social channels, feature these channels on appropriate pages in your website, as well as in other marketing content like brochures, business cards, email signatures and so on. You can also add widgets (links or icons that enable viewers to share your page to a social channel with a single mouse click) to your website, which helps streamline and increase sharing.
Step #7: Focus on Storytelling
One of the fundamental building blocks of social media is storytelling, sharing experiences, insights and anecdotes with your audience. Whether you want to educate, inspire or engage, the best way to communicate is through crafting a narrative that resonates with your targeted readers. The more you understand your audience, what they care about, what their concerns are and so on, the more compelling stories you can tell.
Step #8: Build a Team and Establish Roles
If you have multiple team members involved in your social media efforts, it’s critical to establish accountability and responsibility to ensure no important tasks go undone, and, just as importantly, that people don’t end up repeating efforts. This is particularly important given that opportunities to engage on social channels often have a short window of opportunity.
Step #9: Establish Social Media Policies
Developing policies is vital for establishing consistency and efficiency in your social media efforts. If there’s just one person within the organization managing these efforts, these policies can be more of an informal set of notes. If several team members are involved, it is worthwhile to develop more formal standards. Either way, it’s good to document policies and the rules of engagement, and revise them as needed on an ongoing basis.
To learn more, download our white paper, “Marketing 101 for MSPs: Social Media.” This paper provides the background and guidance MSPs can use to build an effective social media strategy, one that yields real business results.