If we can’t find out what we want to know online, it’s probably not worth knowing. We’re so reliant on the internet despite it being a relatively new phenomenon. And possibly because of this dependence, without an online presence your business – and certainly your brand – won’t be working as well as it could.
But corporate websites are so yesterday. They have a purpose – they are an easy way for your customers to find out about you and the service you provide. Your website is your online shop front where potential customers can see who you are and what you sell. But to really develop your brand and to engage with your clients, you should consider using social media too.
So which should you choose?
Social media can really help reinforce the values of your business and build trust with customers. But the world of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can seem quite daunting to the uninitiated. However there are lots of tools available (online, where else?!) to help you get started, and by taking a few small steps you’ll find yourself opening your business up to a whole new market.
To begin with, you’ll need to consider why you’re using social media. Are you hoping to build your client base, interact with existing clients to improve retention, or are you hoping to use it as a tool to find out what’s happening in the adviser market? Depending on your answer, browse each of the sites for a while to find out where the people are that you want to engage.
Each social media site has a different type of audience so, depending on who you want to talk to, that’s where you want to be. And don’t be tempted to try everything at once. It’s worth using one channel well rather than struggling to maintain all channels to start with. Set up an account, and you’re off!
Depending on the channel you use, you’ll need to decide how much time you’ll need to devote to it. It doesn’t need to take up a lot of time, but will need someone to keep an eye on it. Twitter is very short and fast so may need a bit more regular attention than some sites. However, retweeting posts of other users you follow counts as activity, and can really show your brand’s personality. Facebook and LinkedIn posts allow you to go into more detail, sharing expertise and information with LinkedIn focussing mainly on a business audience. Because of the detail afforded by these two media, they may be better for engaging current clients or for you to share information with the adviser market and build your network.
When it comes to what you should post, you should consider the original question of why you’re using social media. The information you post should reinforce and reflect this, whether it be topical articles or personal comment. Why not look at other businesses, both in geographic location and in the same industry. See what they’re saying. Or look at brands you find interesting and consider what they do with social media. Do they post interesting articles, or make comment on current topics?
And if you’re worried about the compliance restrictions around what you can post, the FCA has issued guidance on using social media. They’re keen to enable businesses to use these powerful business tools and so have fairly comprehensive rules about what, and how, to post.
Once you’re up and running
Whatever you decide to do, help is always close at hand. There are many sites dedicated to helping you with problems you might be having, or just to develop the skills you’ve already got. You just need to get surfing that web! And once you’ve found your feet it’s worth developing those skills. Why not see if there’s a digital media knowledge-sharing event held in your area? These often focus on one area of social media, such as hashtagging or blogging, and they help fellow business users develop their skills. They’re often very informal, pitched at all levels and a great networking opportunity rolled into one.
We look forward to seeing you soon on Twitter @RLprotection or on LinkedIn (Royal London Protection - Adviser)