In this post we’ll share three reasons your firm likely isn’t finding success with its social media efforts and you will learn about eight objectives you should consider in order to provide focus and clarity in your social marketing strategy.
Back in October I was invited to speak at SMPS Boston’s social media event. The premise of the talk was producing content with results for AEC firms. After getting positive feedback I thought I’d take two components of that talk and open them up to help our readers gain context on how to better leverage social media within their firms.
Why aren’t firms successful with social media?
Before we can talk about how firms can get better, we have to understand what firms are often doing wrong. It comes down to three angles of execution:
- Firms overextend their real capability to manage: Most professional service firms don’t have the luxury of having big marketing departments. And social media is usually at the bottom of their activities list, while RFP responses are often at the top. Yet, firms often have a lot of social logos on their website – just because they feel they need the presence. I’ve seen YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and the list can go on. The reality is no firm can manage every one of those platforms well. All too often I click on the majority of these logos and find little, no, or very dated content.
- Firms talk too much about themselves: It’s very easy to promote your new key hire, announce a presence at an upcoming event, highlight a project you recently won, or post about open job positions. In some cases, it’s good to supplement your content with this type of information but it shouldn’t drive the story. Your core prospect audience doesn’t find this content truly thought provoking or useful and if they receive too much of it, they quickly tune out and ultimately begin tuning out the firm’s online presence altogether.
- Dialogue and recognition become infrequent and/or non-existent: At the core, this is what social media is all about. Getting people to comment, share, like, favorite, retweet, etc. Yet, firms too often are viewing their social channels as an announcement board rather than a channel to engage.
Eight core objectives to get more from your social media
In the end, the real reason firms struggle with social media is usually due to a lack of clear objectives. In order to be successful with social media, we have to be real with what we can handle. How much time do we realistically have to give to social media? And with that time, what 1, 2, 3, or 4 objectives are we truly trying to accomplish? To help you answer that question, consider the following objectives for your firm:
- Humanize the brand by creating real-time dialogue in the market: This is the core of social media. If this is your objective, everything you produce should try to engage the firm’s targeted audience in order to humanize the firm. The reality is any other objective is slightly at odds with this objective – and that’s ok.
- Increase brand awareness by reaching untapped audiences: Here your firm should be trying to get its experience and expertise in front of an untapped audience. So the focus should be to use platforms that can help you find new communities (e.g. LinkedIn) that you can focus on reaching out to with useful content.
- Create deeper credibility with clients and prospects: If this is one of your objectives, then the firm should only focus on the channels where you know your client base and prospect base spends their time. And only create content that targets those two audiences.
- Drive website traffic to increase conversions and generate leads: This one is really hard. But in this objective every piece of content you create should aim to pull your audience into your website to consume another piece of content at a deeper level.
- Engage influencers to cross-promote the firm: Every industry has key influencers in the market. More often than not, these may be your top consultants who are featured keynotes at your industry events. In this objective, everything a firm produces should aim to engage these influencers in hopes that they share or engage with your content with the goal to open up referral networks or leverage their larger social following.
- Engage employees to build a culture of open dialogue and knowledge sharing: In this objective we’re aiming to open our social presence to the entire company. We want firmwide engagement to present the firm as a collective set of experts.
- Illustrate company culture to assist with recruiting: This objective aims to attract top talent. Everything the firm produces should be tied to conveying and illustrating why your firm is the best place to work and why top talent should consider your firm as their next place of employment.
- Decrease marketing costs via free promotion through social channels: This one is honestly my least favorite. Though it does belong. Every CFO wants to hear ROI and with social it’s easy to show “we reached XX followers and spent $X and 30 min. of time.” The reality with this one though is the free aspect of social is no longer what it used to be. Most major platforms are beginning to move to the “paid promotion” model in order to have your post reach a larger audience. No longer does your post reach the masses without handing over a little advertising dollars.
First, evaluate how much time your team really has both to produce content for social media and manage your social media accounts. Second, as a team, determine what the firm’s 1-3 real objectives are for your social media presence. Not only will this give you focus, it’ll also give you metrics to focus on to measure results. And third, determine the content assets currently available within the firm. This will point your social team in the right direction and make the job of producing meaningful content much more efficient.