As social media has surged in popularity it was probably inevitable that professional services firms would began to include it as a part of their marketing strategy. But is it effective? What are the key benefits? How do you develop a strategy? These are some of the questions we will address in this post.
Let’s start by defining what a social media marketing strategy is all about.
Social Media Marketing Strategy Defined
Social media marketing strategy is a written document describing how you will use social media in support of strategic marketing goals such as brand building, lead generation or talent acquisition. Social media marketing strategies typically contain the following elements:
- Business purpose to be addressed
- Target audience profiles
- Social media platforms to be used
- Implementation tactics
- Specific goals and measures to be tracked
Often, a social media strategy is part of a more comprehensive marketing plan.
The Strategic Uses of Social Media
Social media can be an important component of your overall marketing strategy. We have identified five primary roles that social media can play in a modern professional services firm.
Social media’s original intended role, as an online networking system, is still important for professional services firms. Treat Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as an online cocktail party—a way to meet new people and develop important business and client relationships—but without the hangover. And, like a cocktail party, social media is highly reciprocal. People expect replies to their tweets, comments, and questions, and there is an expectation that you will share other people’s content as well as your own.
2. Content Promotion
Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to promote your firm’s content. Creating a social media marketing strategy to promote your content via different channels will help build your reputation and visibility—i.e., your brand.
A word of warning on content promotion, though—it’s important not to overdo self-promotion. Social media is reciprocal, and you need to balance self-promotion with sharing important content created by other industry thought leaders. While there seems to be no widely accepted standard for how much of others’ content to share, there is a bias toward education. Leave your marketing collateral on your website. Educate, don’t hard sell.
3. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Social media has become a valuable way to boost SEO. Think of it as another path to content promotion. There is no solid evidence that search engines are using social media popularity as a gauge of a page’s authority. That would quickly become a target for “black hat” manipulation. However by sharing content widely you attract “natural” links, which have a very clear impact on page authority. So boosting your social media presence should also help your page rank in search engines. Another hidden benefit of social media is that its content is searchable—at least for Twitter and LinkedIn. That means that your tweet, which links back to your website’s blog, may be found by someone doing a simple Google search—another opportunity to gain website traffic.
Social media is a great way to do research. Before you meet with a new client, interview someone for a case study, or hire a new employee, you should check out their social media streams. Regardless of whether they are a corporation or an individual, you will learn a lot about their personality, authority, reputation, and visibility. Social media is also an easy way to research marketplace trends and engage with the competition, keeping you abreast of their initiatives and, perhaps, allowing for advantageous collaboration. This concept of market intelligence is sometimes referred to as social listening.
Social media is a natural recruitment tool, whether it be finding new employees or seeking out business partners. LinkedIn and Facebook let you post highly targeted jobs focusing on users with certain résumé attributes, and provides real-time analytics showing, among other things, who has viewed the post. And of course, LinkedIn is well known as a good place to search for a new position or to find the right talent.
Given these multiple uses, is social media in some way better than more traditional marketing approaches, such as face to face networking? Put another way, what are the benefits to making social media a part of your marketing plan? As it turns out there are several.
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