By Stacy West, Vice President, Marketing, SolarWinds MSP
Long before social media became a cultural phenomenon, it was simply a platform for connecting people who shared similar interests or common experiences. Fast-forward to today and social media still serves as a connector, but it has also become a valuable business tool.
MSPs are using it to help increase market exposure, brand awareness and to inform and educate customers and prospects. But as many MSPs have learned, all of that doesn’t happen overnight. Just like other facets of your business, social media requires investment.
Committing to a successful program—with time and resources—is the difference between simply being present on social media and being purposeful. Above all, letting the authentic personality of your business and the people behind it shine through helps MSPs stand out in the vast social media landscape.
Getting started with social media is the easy part, from setting up your accounts, handles and profiles, to issuing your first posts. The hard part is the effort it takes to gain followers, drive ongoing interest, and share interesting and relatable content over time. Here are four essential things to remember if you want to move your business from silent to social:
1. Focus on Consistent and Creative Content: Social media content requires planning and creativity to attract and maintain audience attention. A consistent cadence of posts is key; if new content is launched daily and then slows to once a month; you may lose audience interest, not to mention followers. In general, posts should flow once per day on all platforms, drawing connections to what and why you are sharing the information and who will be viewing the information. On Twitter, posts should be more frequent—plan on at least several each day. Pro tip: Creating a posting calendar is a great way to stay organized and keep track of frequency.
2. Get to Know Your Audience: To be effective with social media, it’s important to know your audience and interact with them. Relationships are built with your followers when you communicate with those who express interest or ask questions, and when you deliver value to them—whether it’s a simple response, an introduction to a team member who can provide more information, or a link to helpful content. Pro tip: Followers expect timely responses to their questions and complaints. Be sure to appoint a person or team to manage and monitor your social accounts—even on weekends. Also, take the time to review page insights on your followers. You will be able to pull key demographics on them in order to connect with them on a more personal level.
3. Understand the Different Networks: Different social networks require different approaches when it comes to crafting your content. For example, LinkedIn is an ideal professional network for displaying longer posts, while Twitter is useful for conversations and quick interactions with followers. Instagram is perfect for images and photos that incorporate visual storytelling, while Facebook is the most commonly used application but has a more casual audience. It is not always smart to focus time on every social channel; consider the advantages to using each network and the quality of your presence as an MSP on that network. Pro tip: Social profiles are the first impression for your business and these profiles should relay company culture, corporate values, and a positive tone. Also, as a rule, be sure to keep your company descriptions up to date on all social media pages. This is something that is often overlooked.
4. Less Hype, More Help: Always remember to put yourself in your followers’ shoes and focus on posting the type of helpful, useful, and entertaining content that will appeal to them. Promoting your business shouldn’t be your primary goal. Instead, find a way to capture and hold their attention using content that relates to their businesses, their lives, and the overall customer journey. Conversations are encouraged and they don’t always have to be about complaints or lost information. Pro tip: Set the stage for engagement by asking questions of your audience and relating with them on topics that impact their business challenges and goals, or their work day. By demonstrating to followers that you are interested in their opinions and want to cater your business to their needs, you’ll become a valuable resource to them. Polling is now available on several social media platforms and is a great way to engage followers and get their feedback.
Social networks remain a place to make important connections and build relationships with your business partners, customers, prospects, and market influencers. While a lot has changed through the years, one thing still holds true: being successful on social media requires that you be consistently present, engaged, interesting, and informative.