- Know your audience and where to find them
“We work with a wide range of industries and different people within those industries,” said Eloise. “We’re focusing more on customers and not just partners, so we’ve had to rethink our strategy and messaging.” The tone is different for different channels and audiences, she told me, with a more relaxed feel on Facebook and more industry specific content on LinkedIn. “Twitter is our primary engagement channel. It’s a great place to have conversations.”
Use social to position your company as an industry specialist
For LS Retail, social media is primarily a vehicle for distributing content. “We want to be known as industry experts, so all our content relates to that goal. We write at least two blogs a week and spread that content through social channels,” Giada told me. Commenting on and sharing others’ posts is also a great way to get your name out there and bring traffic back to your website.
Be comfortable with trial and error
“Like most companies, we’re still learning the best ways to use social media,” Eloise says. “We started by creating personas to match our target audiences – the IT manager of a large food company, or the marketing manager of a small retail store, for example – and we create posts to speak to those audiences. We measure, analyze, try again. It’s not easy, but we are learning what works.”
Read a lot, share a lot, add your own spin
To keep readers coming back, you have to provide fresh content often, Giada told me. So they subscribe to many different industry newsletters, websites, etc. “It helps us know what’s important to that vertical,” she said, “and it shows that we’re informed about their business.” You shouldn’t just share articles outright, though: “We always try to put a new spin on the information so it’s not just ‘recycled’ content,” Eloise added. “We need to add some value on top of what’s there. Readers can go so many places for information – we want to give them a reason to choose us.”
Have an editorial calendar, but keep “open moments”
You want to connect your content to new products your company is bringing out, or events, or special offers, and having an editorial calendar can keep you from missing these great opportunities. However, says Eloise, be open to those moments when something of interest to your audience pops up. You don’t want to miss out on a great discussion just because it doesn’t fit your plan.
Feature customer stories (don’t just talk about yourself)
“We publish customer stories and white papers quite a lot on our website and distribute them on social media. Readers love them and get a lot of value from them,” said Giada. “And customer videos are great!” Talking only about your company gets boring pretty quickly, but highlighting inspiring customer successes shows you’re actively engaging with and committed to your customers. It drives traffic back to your website, and it’s a great way to show how your solutions helped make success possible!
Involve everyone – it’s called “social” media for a reason
“You need to have different voices,” Eloise said. “It can be hard to get staff involved, because everyone says ‘I’m not a writer!’ We have a great marketing team, and we create good blogs and content for the web. We go to different experts in our company, interview them, and write up the blog for them. Or we give the person a few lines to get them going because starting from scratch can be overwhelming.
“And you have to be open to content all the time, from anywhere. I got an email saying, ‘This customer had this problem with our competitor because they don’t offer X. Can we help?’ I told him, yes, absolutely, why don’t you write a blog about it? So now we have a new contributor who is really familiar with problems our customers are facing.”
Contributing content isn’t the only way to be involved, Giada added. Employees can also share, comment, retweet and post event pictures. As Eloise said, “‘Social’ means everybody should be involved and everybody should share.”
Be strategic in building your following
Building a following takes work. “We’re not just throwing out blogs,” Eloise said, “we’re building our name as a company who knows the industry. To do that, it’s important to make personal connections with industry leaders. Twitter is a very interactive medium, so we follow Twitterers who are known in their field. We share with them, comment on what they say, engage with them. You have to do this carefully, of course, and it can be time-consuming, but a good way to attract quality followers is to be seen having valuable conversations with those thought leaders.”
Let your human side shine
According to Eloise, some of LS Retail’s most popular posts are the most “human” ones. “People love pictures of birthdays! Those always get a lot of likes.” You don’t want to do these posts too often, and some channels are more appropriate than others for this kind of content, but showing the warm, human face of your company can help build good-will and trust.