Umass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research Blog

10 Social Media Tips From Successful Businesses

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research has conducted thousands of interviews with successful businesses. The following tips are based on studies of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and the most successful not for profit businesses.

 1.     Have a social media presence.

The Fortune 500 prefer Twitter with 73% having corporate Twitter accounts, 66% have corporate Facebook pages and 28% have blogs for their companies. The Inc. 500 are equally involved but prefer Facebook (74% with Facebook pages, 64% have corporate Twitter accounts and 34% have corporate blogs). Not for profits lead the pack with over 80% on Facebook and Twitter and over half with a corporate blog.

 2.      Use the platforms and tools that meet your goals and objectives.

Successful companies are selecting the social media tools that help them accomplish their goals. Blogs are best for corporations who want to provide thought leadership in their industry. Blogs have the advantage of being owned by the company and free from any restrictions imposed by some platforms. Each entry in the blog as well as comments and replies help to further SEO. Twitter, on the other hand, takes far less time and can be continually updated. Coupons and promotions are best delivered through a corporate Facebook page.

 3.     Monitor your name, brands and products online.

While participating in social media is essential, listening to what is being said about your company is equally imperative. Online firestorms happen.  Without an automated alert in place on your company’s name, your products and brands, you could be unaware of problems and unable to jump in to fix them. An online crisis needs to be addressed quickly. Monitoring helps to make that possible.

 4.     Track where your constituents are coming from and how they use your portals.

Purchase software for tracking or ask the pertinent questions.  If you are not automatically tracking those who engage your company through social media, considering a short survey at the time of a purchase asking how they located your company or the product. Find out if the buyer came to you via one portal or another so that you can begin to evaluate the effectiveness of different platforms for your business.

 5.     Have a measurement system to determine effectiveness.

In order to measure the effectiveness of your social media plan you first need to establish goals. Are you looking to add followers and fans, to generate subscribers, to move products via a particular online channel? Without goals, you cannot assess your success. Employ the appropriate method to measure your progress.  Some may require more complex measurement or the help of consultants.

 6.     Create a written social media policy.

Just as there are company policies on everything from dress codes to proper telephone etiquette, anyone involved in your social media should be familiar with what is acceptable online behavior. These policies often include guidelines regarding the use of the company’s name and the scope of acceptable online dialogue as well as processes like review having posts reviewed, if one exists.

 7.     Have a social media plan.

Businesses have marketing plans, succession plans and financial plans.  Social media needs to be planned as well. These plans should include hiring and investment goals, evaluation of current tools and plans for adding or discontinuing tools. (Most businesses have discontinued MySpace and many have added You Tube or Foursquare).

 8.     Use trained and experienced social media people.

Statistics show that companies using full-time, trained social media people are far more likely to have a social media plan, a social media policy and monitoring, measuring and tracking strategies in place than those that retrain or reposition employees to cover the social media function.

9.     Have a social media crisis plan in place.

If your company comes under attack online, you need to be ready with at least some basic idea of who will respond, how and where the response will take place and what kind of response might be best received.  Now is the time to research what others have done.

FedEx was forced to deal quickly with the video on Twitter showing a driver throwing a TV over a high fence.  Comcast had a video of a repair man asleep on a couch waiting for a call from the office while at a home trying to repair the cable TV. There are hundreds of examples beginning with Dell many years ago.  All of these companies now have a crisis plan in place to minimize the damage from situations like these.

10. Have a content strategy.

You need to have a plan to distribute content to market your business.  What do you put up and where does it go? Do you have a clear direction and audience in mind for your content? Content strategy includes not only what you want to say, but the tone and frequency of your posts or tweets.

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Filed under: Social Media

4 Responses

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