Three Secrets of Social Media

photo_Allan-Rubin_65x85by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

Happy New Year!

With 2013 and a fresh crop of resolutions upon us, it’s probably safe to assume there’s something about social media on your to-do list for the year. Most of the federal marketers with whom I’ve spoken recently are still searching for the secret sauce of social media. How much do I need to do? How do I measure results? How can I align social media activities to support my organization’s federal sales efforts?

I don’t have any easy answers, but there are some simple guidelines you should follow as you look to ramp up your social media activities this year.

As 2012 came to a close, we invited Marc Hausman of Strategic Communications Group to speak with some of our clients about how they can use social media more effectively to communicate with their channel partners and customers. When he’s not doing stand-up comedy, Marc runs an agency focused on social media as a sales enablement tool. He provided us with some great food for thought.

According to Marc, social media is simply a channel to reach a targeted audience in a cost-effective manner. While often used for branding and awareness, it also can be effective at the top of the sales funnel, to nurture and cultivate leads, and to accelerate deal capture.

Marc sees social media as a compelling medium to influence government employees. That’s because unlike their commercial counterparts, who treat best practices like proprietary trade secrets, public sector employees are motivated to share information and best practices more publicly. They often go online to compare challenges and seek out solutions from their peers. As a result, the public sector has been an early adopter of social media (for research on this, check out Market Connections).

Social media will not replace sales. You still need to pick up the phone, engage with customers, and get to know them. But social media can help you identify those with whom you should speak, and what they care about, based on the digital footprints they’ve left online. They have formed communities around common interests, and they are more empowered to seek out and share information than ever before. Your customers will tell you what they think, and what they need, based on where they spend their time online. You can address their concerns, and win their trust, by sharing content and information that helps them meet their missions and solve their problems.

When doing so, keep three things in mind:

  1. Define your goals. Do you want to increase leads at the top of the funnel? Motivate channel partners to offer your solution instead of another? How will you measure success? Answering these questions will help you determine where to engage, how often, and with what type of content.
  2. Be where your customers (and partners) are. Define your target audience and key contacts, and find them online. Look for communities of interest that are likely to attract them, and establish a presence there: GovLoop, MeriTalk, and LinkedIn are great places to start. (Side note: Mark Amtower is a huge LinkedIn evangelist with great info to get you started.)
  3. Be a publisher. Nobody wants to be sold, but everyone wants content. If you can produce your own content, that’s great. If not, share information from other places. It’s OK to re-purpose blog posts, articles, etc. as long as they are relevant and focused on solutions and the application of technology (not your product features). Use social media to associate your name, and your company, as influencers. Once you become a source of insight and information, you’re more likely to get requests from people to help solve their problems. That’s when the sales process kicks in.

immixGroup is getting more involved with social media all the time. To learn how, contact your immixGroup senior account manager or reach out to me at allan_rubin@immixgroup.com. You can also get useful social media tips by following Marc Hausman‘s blog.

One Response to Three Secrets of Social Media

  1. What a great read! This post does an excellent job of capturing the key themes of my presentation in late November.

    It’s true that social media is an effective and targeted channel for content distribution. Yet, a program can be successfully aligned with measurable sales outcomes (i.e. lead generation, lead nurturing and deal capture) only when the content is exceptional.

    What do I mean by “exceptional?”

    I explain in this article I wrote for Digital Marketing Remix. Here’s a link:

    http://digitalmarketingremix.com/profiles/blogs/the-3-hallmarks-of-exceptional-content

    And here is a link to an article of mine the Washington Business Journal just published about three trends that will influence how companies market and sell to government agencies in 2013. It expands on the thoughts I shared at immixGroup.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2013/01/three-industry-trends-that-will-define.html?page=all

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