This article is for the people within a B2B business that are responsible for the management of social media for business networking and communications. In most businesses this will include key executives, sales, marketing, and purchasing staff. Learn to manage your social media voice.
Budget Your Time
Managing your social media is simple but you have to continually refine social media to improve your business reach and voice. The key to this is that you have to invest time on a regular basis to build your network and exercise your voice. Social media can be a captivating technology that can consume untold hours and as a business you have to put some common sense limits on this. This is a process not a project so it will never be finished and it must be managed as such. Decide on the right balance of effort and then stick to that.
It’s simple…The right people in the right seats talking to the right people
The first step in social media is going to be picking the right people and they typically fall into three categories; Executives, Sales & Marketing, and Purchasing. The reality is that business value comes from communication for either sales or purchasing as those are the common external connections of a business. Executives are different in that they often reach into both areas with their contacts. In larger organizations this can be many profiles divided into territories. Once you have the profiles identified you need to create a profile of the connections. That profile should include their network which is simply made up of who they should be speaking to.
Audience Profiling – it’s not really a bad word
The media has given profiling people a bad name but the reality is that for each social media profile you should have an audience profile describing the audience that is targeted for that profile. For example, if you have a product sold to medical offices in Chicago and the profile has sales responsibility then the audience profile might be:
- Medical Office Decision Makers
- Common Titles
- Office Manager
- Practice Manager
- Medical Office
- Practice Administrator
- IT Manager
- Common Titles
- Common Titles
- Medical Director
- Managing Partner
- Managing Physician
- Common Titles
- Negative Contacts
- Out of the area
This profile is then used to qualify additional connections. The first thing some people might say is “well that’s dumb, I know who I want to connect to.” However, you will sing a different song when a key person leaves the organization and the network has to be rebuilt. The last item you might notice is the negative contact profile. These are the people we do not want in our network and the common example is the competitor but there are special considerations here. We have often accepted requests from competitors and then used that to check shared contacts to assess risk or to identify opportunities and then we disconnect them from the network.
Set Goals & Budget Time
Network building goes on for an entire career so the time involved can get out of balance with its true value. For this reason it is best to set a time-budget and then make sure it gets used. Spend half an hour each week introducing yourself to new people that fit your audience profile. All the social networks provide utilities for this network building process so make sure everyone is trained on how to use these. With each profile we recommend setting a weekly goal for network building and then tracking it on a monthly basis. In many client profiles that we manage the goal for a rep is to add 5 new people each week and while that seems like nothing, over the course of a year that is 250 additional contacts that are hearing your message.
Plan the message but react to events
With the network in place and evolving as it should the next area to address would be the messages that you will put into the network. First, remember that you are a person and that should not get lost here. Your messages paint a picture to your business and it needs to be what you are about but this is not advertising so it is not a constant sales message. The people that go into social media screaming at the top of their lungs are always surprised that they did not get the response they expected. That is because as a net-citizen they are being rude. The golden rule is that people do business with those that they trust and if your message is a constant “me, me, me” people will react badly to your messaging. A common plan is to share 80% personal and industry information and 20% or less direction promotional copy. Remember that the postings you make are painting a picture about who and what you are as a person and a person that spends all their time talking about themselves is boring.
In Summary: Build your network, refine your voice, and keep on keeping on.