With spring arriving ahead of schedule, updating your Facebook status is likely the last thing on your mind – if you even have a Facebook account, that is. But social media can have great value, and even if you’ve resisted up until this point, it’s easy to get started.
In this Q&A, Jason Falls, CEO and founder of Social Media Explorer LLC, a digital and social media marketing company, and author of No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, explains how and why to take the first step.
GG: What’s the value of social media to an industry segment that doesn’t reach through to the consumer, a la greenhouse growers?
JF: Your customers are using social media, whether you communicate with end consumers or purchasing agents or CFOs at other companies. You have to remember you don’t sell to a business, a building or a logo. You sell to another person. They’re likely using social media. It’s just a matter of finding out where and how they use it and how you can provide value in that environment.
GG: Where is the best place to start with social media if, up until this point, a person has resisted getting involved?
JF: It depends on where your audience is. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging are your big four. Depending upon what level of interest you have in writing/long-form content (blogging) and your ability to participate in conversations on social networks consistently, you pick one and learn. Find others to connect to in and around your industry, start conversations, participate in others and try to be of value to those you’re connected to. As you get used to one, you’ll expand to others and get more acclimated with how to turn conversations into business.
GG: What tools do you recommend for managing and tracking social media?
JF: It depends on the size and scope of what you’re doing. For small businesses, you can get by with free tools like TweetDeck (publishing), Google Analytics (website measurement), SocialMention.com (social measurement and monitoring) and Google Alerts (monitoring). The more complex your social efforts or the larger your business is, the more sophisticated tools you’ll need. For the more advanced businesses (and budgets) I like Sysomos and Radian6 for monitoring/social metrics, Expion and Spredfast (both clients) for publishing and management and Argyle Social for link and conversion tracking. But there’s a lot out there that’s good besides those.
GG: What’s the best marketing campaign you’ve seen on social media, and what was so great about it?
JF: I like simple campaigns that have big impacts, so while there’s a lot to be said about the flash of Old Spice or the utility of what Dell and Comcast have done, I like campaigns like Expert Laser Services. They are a B2B printer ink and toner maintenance supplier. They developed a contest a few years ago called the “Destroy Your Printer” contest where they had people submit YouTube videos of them destroying their old laser printers they don’t like or use anymore. They gave free toner or some nominal prize, but got a few entries, a wad of Internet buzz and even new customers because of the exposure. The best part? When people destroyed their printer, they needed a printer. Who can lease them a printer? Expert Laser Solutions. Brilliant.