Tips for using social media for business
Expatica poll results: How and why Expatica readers use social media for business, plus some expert tips.
The majority of Expatica readers, 63 percent, said that their company uses social media platforms for business networking and marketing purposes, with 40 percent finding it very important or important to do so. Only 13 percent thought it wasn’t important at all for their business.
LinkedIn is the most useful social media platform for business purposes according to Expatica readers, followed closely by Facebook. Less than half found Twitter useful for business purposes.
Some readers have privacy issues with Facebook. “I wouldn't touch Facebook with a bargepole–way too insecure. There's no differentiation between business and personal,” says one expat based in France. Her advice follows: “Post relevant information, not personal.”
“Business and social should be separate. I find LinkedIn useful for business but not Facebook,” says another poll respondent.
Regarding Twitter, an expat based in Spain observes: “Twitter appears to be a place for businesses to follow other businesses much of the time and not for the general public. Too many Twitter accounts follow so many others that to read all the Tweets is an impossible task. Much good information gets lost this way.”
Another reader notes: “People dismiss its (social media’s) potential, saying it's for kids and young people.” He advises people to “get involved, and if necessary, employ a social media expert or concierge service to maximise your potential.”
Along with the ‘Big Three’, other social media platforms Expatica users employ include Socialcast, Hyves and Flickr.com.
Here are some more comments from Expatica readers on the advantages and disadvantages of using social media for business, along with some advice on how to get the most out of these networking platforms.
Advantages of using social media for business
- “Gives a more personal feel.”
- “Ambient, location-agnostic.”
- “Up to the minute information.” (Ref. to LinkedIn.)
- “Free advertising. Reaching people through friends that might otherwise not know about you.”
- “You can quickly build up a base of followers and use social media to draw people more regularly to your website. It is an easy way to keep interested parties updated.”
- “Inside a large corporation this gives networking (opportunities to) employees. Level playing field, transparency, democracy, flattening of organizational structure, learning, sharing of information and best practices, no barriers of rank, age, country of origin.”
Disadvantages of social media on business
- “The abundance of messages.”
- “Challenges the speed that a company must react to 'bad press'."
- “The time it takes to post the information.” (Editor’s note: Consider usingHootsuite.)
- “Privacy issues.”
- “It's a limited resource.”
- “(Encourages) Self marketers, gurus.”
- “Cannot always properly control all dialogue leading to one poster with ill intent giving disproportionate negative PR.”
Expat tips for social media
- “Keep it light.”
- “Don’t bombard people, and have something to say or say nothing.”
- “Communicate how and what the company can allow when using social media.”
- “Choose your media to be in line with the people you are targeting.”
- “If you're into consumer goods, have huge budgets and time. Then get into social media by all means; it does not replace any of your current channels but is an additional channel.”
- “Have the development supported with a good PR advisor and strategy. Have a reason to do it beyond the fact everyone else is doing it.”
- “Make sure you are going to offer some useful information through the social media you employ.”
Mark Edmondson, social media expert at digital marketing agency Guava, offers some expert tips which echo in more detail what our readers note about using social media for business.
“The power comes from people sharing your content, not from you being a social media celebrity.
“Be a useful, unique resource in your accounts. For instance, don’t just re-Tweet, try to add to the story and add an expert opinion on what is being linked to. Likewise on a blog, don’t just rehash another news story, add something that furthers the discussion and benefits the reader from your expertise. I have a professional account for this purpose on Twitter.
“Social media doesn’t just mean the main trendy services such as Quora, but blogs, forums and reviews. We’ve found those less talked about services to have most effect on buying decisions.
“Use the social media platform where your customers are. This could be a motorcycle forum, or Facebook. Use monitoring and research to find this out, and make the appropriate social media platform account
“I don’t see the point on finding out ‘now’ trends with search.twitter for instance, if they are unrelated to your business. We do use social media monitoring such as Radian6, Google Alerts, Google Insights, along with searches for brand terms of competitors to find what user concerns are in the industry.”
The future of social media
Lastly in the Expatica poll, we asked respondents if they believed that all companies will need to employ social media platforms for their businesses to grow. ‘Yes’ said 58 percent of poll participants.
So will social media channels eventually replace e-newsletters ?
“Email marketing will still be used so long as people use email,” says Edmondson. “Also, from a marketing perspective e-letters are still at least 10 times more effective for sales than traffic from social media.”
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