I spent last night down at Oxford Brookes University, taking up their kind offer to speak at the annual Business lectures event. The session topic was Social Media for Business, hosted in one of thepresentation venues I’ve had for a while!
nicest We were treated to a great session from Dr Ana Isabel Canhoto, of the University’s Business School, who shared some powerful research insights into the effect of recession on business attitudes:
- Research suggests a much reduced focus on customer service & support, combined with a heavy increase in focus on pricing strategies – short term thinking in extreme!?
- Digital marketing channels are certainly seen as a cost effective way to reach audiences, but social media techniques are not fully understood by business
- Barriers to effective use of social media include: lack of knowledge & training, lack of business process; lack of technical infrastructure
I ran a presentation followed by a Q&A session with an audience made up of academics, masters students & business owners from across the UK. The session threw up several reoccurring themes, which I’ll summarise for you here, together with the presentation:
1.Know your business objective! Marketing principles still apply, & you need to develop a clear understanding of what your business objectives are.
2.Understanding your audience is key. If you want people to engage with your brand, you need to understand what they are interested in AND how this relates to your brand…
3.People engage with themes, topics & issues, not brands. There are exceptions of course, but by & large people need more than just the brand to get excited…
4.Think about how you can add value to your audience communities. What do you have to say that’s going to make their life easier, more interesting or more exciting. How can you link these things back to your brand, product or service in a meaningful way?
5.If you don’t have interesting, useful, engaging content, you can’t build relationships. You need to look inside your own business for the knowledge, insight & resources that will help you find this content, you’ll be surprised how much already exists.
6.Social media cuts across business function, your audience consider your brand online as one entity. Consumers don’t care if the twitter channel is run by marketing, & service issues are managed by the Call Centre, for them the brand is the brand & you need to prepare to manage all business functions through social channels.
7.Search is heavily influenced by social media activity. Google is the gateway to your content online. If you want people to see your stuff you need to make it visible in search & one of the best ways of doing this is through intelligent use of social media.
8.Understand your influencers & treat them with respect. Influential bloggers have just as much power to make or break a brand as offline media owners. You need to think about how best to build trusted relationships with these influencers.
9.Remember you don’t own the channel, you’re a voice in a community. These aren’t broadcast channels & you don’t own them. Social media is about dialogue. Brands can participate, but they don’t automatically get a bigger share of voice.
10.Dialogue & collaboration NOT broadcast. Like all good relationships, trust & affinity is earned. Frequent, consistent, useful dialogue with your audience will build brand affinity you can use to drive your business objectives. But like traditional CRM, this trust is precious & needs to be managed carefully.