Social Media Is Here To Stay
10th December 2015 Paul Andrews
Ten tips to consider when building a social media presence for the family business.
Whether you like it or not the world of social media is here to stay and family businesses need to ensure that they embrace it as part of their overall marketing and communications strategy. Predictions for numbers of users of platforms such as facebook, twitter, reddit, linkedin, YouTube and instagram (to name a few) are only going to increase so ignore social media at your peril.
Family businesses need to embrace the opportunity although there are many that are not sure how to use social media successfully. “It is not easy and there is no easy answer but on the other hand it is not really rocket science either” explains Paul Andrews, founder and Managing Director of the award-winning resource centre, www.familybusinesssunited.com “but there are ways to get your message out there and to ensure that it gets heard.”
Here are some tips to help you grow with social media as part of your strategic plans:
Tip 1 – Make sure that you are on the right platforms.
It is all about communication with the right audience so if your business creates luxury products then visually they are interesting to others and platforms such as pinterest and instagram become an interesting proposition. If your business is more professional service and B2B then it might be more appropriate to use LinkedIn but there are advantages and disadvantages to each platform and in most cases a mix of different platforms will work best.
Tip 2 – Create an audience.
It might seem obvious but it is important to have a following otherwise nobody is actually hearing the message that you are trying to share! Make sure sufficient time is spent at the outset to follow/like/connect with individuals to build a following and continue to work on this regularly.
Tip 3 – Remember your own stakeholders.
People like family businesses for many reasons, not least perceived levels of higher trust and support compared to their non-family counterparts so make sure you use this to your advantage. Try to engage with as many of your customers on social media as you can because you can be sure that your competitors will be, as well as prospects and staff members too.
Tip 4 – Try to gain recognition in specific areas.
Sharing posts and information on a specific topic/area of business is a good way to create a presence and to become known for that ‘thing’ so that there becomes an association with your profile/brand and the products/services that you are involved with.
Tip 5 – More is not necessarily a good thing.
All too often family businesses are quoted as saying that they don’t have enough followers on social media but in reality, more can be a good thing as it helps to build the brand and engage more widely, but it is all about quality of followers rather than quantity. Engaging strategically with the right people can help to grow the business and save time and effort in doing so too.
Tip 6 – Be relevant.
It is important not to spam your followers with useless posts, nobody likes a spammer. Good content on a regular basis is the way forward but it is also important not to do too much overt selling or people will lose interest. It is necessary to share offers and to raise awareness of what you do but get the balance right.
Tip 7 – Timing of posts.
Build an appreciation of when your potential customers are online and engaging on social media to increase the effectiveness of your activity. There are ways to keep track of posts/activity such as Buffer and Hootsuite and twitter analytics are also helpful to determine engagement levels etc. This can help family firms, especially those with an international customer base to maximise the return on time taken to engage on social media too.
Tip 8 – Be conversational and interact
This is an area that many family businesses steer clear of initially but over time become more engaged with. Social media is all about ‘being social’ so do post questions, engage with others, join in local ‘hours’ such as #Leicestershirehour as these are a great way to build followings and meet other local businesses, use hasthags to be part of a debate and broaden your reach and join in a conversation too.
Tip 9 – Try to stand out from the crowd.
Social media is busy and people are busy so it is important to maximise the potential reach. Try to use pictures and images to capture the eye and helps to engage with the community. Where appropriate staff can be encouraged to share pictures such as winning awards, undertaking charitable endeavours and celebrating successes.
Tip 10 – Maximise the impact of profiles.
Make sure that you make the most of profiles. Use all the tools you have to create engaging images and banners for profiles, keep company pages up to date, share website urls in profiles so that anyone interested in seeking out more can do so readily and easily. Make it easy for people to engage with you and on the flip side, add social media icons to your website and show people that they can engage with you too.
As Paul concludes, “There is no magic wand to make it work and careful planning and use of resources is important to engage appropriately on social media. Start by researching the market to see what your competitors are doing and how they are doing it and use this to create a strategic social media plan. It is also important to actively post once you are up and running and that the social media activity becomes an integrated part of your marketing and communications programme.”
“Family firms that are embracing social media do notice a difference but care does need to be exercised to ensure that the values and culture of the organisation are reflected in the posts and that the heritage and history of the firm remain relevant and influential in developing the corporate messages. The next generation are certainly better placed to post items through platforms that they have been brought up with but care needs to be exercised in the delivery and content to make sure it echoes the business and the brand, especially when it is the name of the family above the door,” adds Paul.
As Paul concludes, “social media is here to stay and is likely to become even more of an influencer in the years to come. Current predictions indicate that there is likely to be an ever-increasing volume of video content on social media so the platforms are evolving and will continue to do so. Family businesses that fail to engage in social media will be doing so at their peril!”