In an age where Facebook is becoming an addiction to some users, many companies are still asking the same question: what the hell is "tweeting" anyways? And how is a company that typically operates offline supposed to know how to do it, and how to do it well? How is a hotel, for example, going to benefit from "Tweeting"? And what about the company with a concrete online marketing plan? Should they stop and drop everything they know about online marketng and dedicate resources to social media? When you have a budget to adjust, do you give it to your intern and tell him to go for it? Probably (and hopefully!) not.
So why is social media different? Why would you take one of your most useful social marketing resources and hand it to an intern?
Less technologically-savvy individuals are sure to get overwhelmed when learning how to benefit from these new tools; even running Google searches about how to start these campaigns can be a headache. I decided to put myself in these companies’ shoes and see what I would do if I was trying to start my own social media campaign with minimal knowledge of the subject. I ran Google search after search after search. All I found is a list of questions asking me if my company is ready for this. Am I ready? How am I supposed to know if I don’t even know what it entails! Also, I stumbled upon list upon list of what NOT to do. And I would be sure NOT to do those things (or anything at all) since no one is saying exactly what I SHOULD do.
There are plenty of benefits of partnering with a social media marketing company. As experts, these companies focus solely on relationship management, customer service, and personification of your company. They have the time, knowledge and resources to draw attention to your company, present it in a favorable light, forecast trends, and even retain customers you may not have known you were going to lose. Partnering with a social media management company is an easy solution to end your social media woes.
Some common questions we hear as online marketers:
Why should I use Facebook and Twitter? We aren’t even an online company!
Facebook currently has over 500 million users and Twitter has over 105 million users. With some creativity, any company could benefit from having a social online presence. No matter where your company is located or what you do, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to INTERACT (let me reiterate that…INTERACT. INTERACT! INTERACT!!!) with your customers online. With these sources, you can monitor what people are saying about your company. You can see what they think of your new commercial, what they think about your breakfast buffet, or if they would recommend you to their friends. Even more importantly, you may be able to intercept any rumors of, for example, an angry customer saying your hotel has bedbugs or a disappointing breakfast before the word spreads too far and causes you to lose guests. Comments from less-than-ecstatic guests can get harsh and if you’re not there to respond and address the issue, one of your competitors will. As marketers, we know you’re losing out on an unbeatable resource by listening to this free feedback from your customers. (Think comment cards that people actually respond to at their own free will with useful information that will help you better your company!)
Why would I let someone who doesn’t even work in my company run my online marketing and social media campaigns?
The beauty of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter is that their online nature allows for virtually anywhere, anytime access, as you know. Where will you, at the property, be searching for information to tweet to your followers about this weekend’s activities? You’ll be asking friends in the area, running some Google searches, and finding out from other’s what’s going on. Do you need to be staring out your window at all times to know what is happening in your area? Usually not. The social media team at any reputable online marketing company will work with you to find what resources you typically refer to when you are doing your in-house marketing and use the same sources.
With a solid social media team at your disposal, it should be a standard practice to have an ongoing dialogue with your social media manager. Plenty of your social media manager’s day is dedicated to monitoring who is talking about your company and what they have to say about your service – you don’t have to be sitting in the same room with these people to find reliable, interesting information about your area anymore. Most importantly, social media managers stay abreast of the knowledge of what converts on social media channels, emerging trends, and how to best solicit responses from customers. The painful part is reacting and responding to these comments in a timely manner, which we all know you don’t have the time to do. Why not allow an EXPERT to handle the management?
I spent hours Googling how to to set up a Facebook page and I actually did it! I’m done, right?
No. Sorry. You’re not. You have much more work to do. You have a page – woohoo! That’s better than no page at all, right? Not true, and far from it! You need to personalize it. Keeping your brand standards in mind, you must to customize your company’s Facebook page as you would customize any marketing message. And most importantly, you need to interact with your community! The majority of social media marketers agree that it’s better to have no page at all than to have a blank account lying dormant. Think of how frustrating it would be for you to stay at a hotel, be directed to the hotel’s Facebook fan page by the front desk agent for exclusive offers, first dibs on any hotel specials or to answer any questions, and to never hear from the hotel again, even after posing the question "Are you close to the zoo?" By not responding to this customer, you’re giving the go-ahead to your competitors to jump in the conversation and say "Hey, we’re less than a mile from the zoo! Stay with us and we can offer you $25 off your stay this weekend." Just like that, that customer has converted to the hotel next door, even though you may offer better amenities for a lower price.
If you don’t have the time to dedicate to posting frequently, respond to customer inquiries, monitor what people are saying, and to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with your consumers about your service, it’s better to just stay away completely and delete your dormant account. Customers need to know you are engaged and care about their feedback. Do yourself – and your sales team – a favor, and invest some resources into hiring a social media expert.
I do have a Twitter account. Why isn’t anyone interacting with me? Why aren’t all the people who like my brand responding to my witty tweets?
People aren’t going to be swooning over your page unless you spend some serious hours giving them reasons to. You have to go out and find people, give them a reason to follow you, and interact with them constantly to keep them engaged with your brand. Plenty of companies are seeing success with running contests. Your social media manager has the resources and the ability to find out what people want and give it to them in exchange for “Liking” your brand. Again, this requires some hours spending time researching what people want from you and strategizing how to give them that. Are your guests wishing you would add an omelet station, like the hotel across the street? Would they be more likely to book a Disneyland package or a wine tasting tour package? As online marketers, we know how to solicit that feedback and notice any opportunities you may be missing out on based on what people are saying about your hotel via various social media outlets. Most social media marketing channels have these ideas hammered out already and know what works and what doesn’t.
Let’s recap: Don’t throw your Twitter login at your intern and expect great results, and definitely don’t tell them to go on Facebook and talk about you. You need a professional, someone who knows how to get the results you want and is able to interpret the results to benefit your company; otherwise, you’re missing out on a huge reputation management opportunity. Hiring a social media manager, even if the individual works miles away, can be the best way to personify your company, engage your customers, and to manage your reputation online.