Posted in practice on December 17, 2015 12:12 pm EST

Four Strategies to Get More Out of Your Social Media

While most of us are adept at using social media personally, leveraging social media for our companies and organizations is a whole different ballgame.


 

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TAGS: business, community, design, media, outreach, social, sustainability,

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By Cathy Hutchison

I remember admiring the Life at HOK blog and aspiring to make my firm’s blogging platform that effective, but when when I met a marketer from HOK who explained just exactly how much time and effort went into producing that level of quality, I was immediately disheartened. After all, my time and resources were already stretched. I wasn’t exactly going to be able to hire a team dedicated to simply writing a blog.

As daunting as it sometimes seems to play in the world of digital media, there tools and strategies that can improve our success.

Here are four key strategies to get more out of your social media:

1. Be where your clients are and develop your connection strategy based on how they use the platform.

While Pinterest is a great platform for companies because it creates hits on your website, it isn’t a match if your clients aren’t using it. Most of our clients will happily help us by sharing advice; so we can ask which platforms the people at their level are using. Here is a look at how some of the typical platforms perform:

• Facebook can perform very well for consumer goods, events and local businesses, but can be difficult to make work for major account sales and professional services. I’ve observed that marketers in the large design firms leverage Facebook as a recruiting tool rather than making it part of their client acquisition strategy. It also helps to keep in mind that Facebook’s algorithms work differently for personal posting than for company pages which are very much pay-to-play if you want exposure in the news feeds.

• Instagram—like Pinterest—can be a great platform for architects and contractors because of its visual nature. Consider that the photography needs to read well on a phone and that you can leverage adding header text to photos in an artistic way to give it context. (You don’t even need to spend hours on Photoshop to pull this off. Free tools like Canva.com can make creating graphic content for social media fast and easy.)

• LinkedIn has transitioned to be more than simply the home of our CV’s. There is now a blogging component which allows you to “publish a post.” If you don’t have a company blog, this can be the place where you publish short thought leadership pieces. The best part is that you can immediately determine engagement. (And if you want to boost the post, recruit your co-workers to like, comment and share.) Because LinkedIn is by nature professional, it can be a good way to connect with people when they are at work.

• If you are new to building your personal influence in social media, Twitter may be a good one to start with. It is popular with church thought leaders and the format makes it easy to see what types of content is interesting to your client base.

2. Plan your content and create an editorial calendar.

How do you get found in the middle of all the noise? The bloggers and though leaders who have built large platforms write on consistent themes which draw people interested in those themes.

You can determine your editorial content by asking: What big ideas do you wish your clients understood?

That single question can be the launching point for your editorial calendar. Don’t underestimate that you have a front row seat to seeing a side of your clients that they aren’t able to see. Going through a building project is a quick way to uncover both success and dysfunction. Writing about solutions and exposing elements our clients are too close to see can be an effective way to position ourselves as thought leaders.

If developing thought pieces sounds too time consuming, you can also take the approach of publishing information on the trends you are seeing. There is value in reporting on what the “church down the street” is doing. Everyone enjoys inspiration especially when it comes to facilities. It’s the reason HGTV is so wildly popular.

3. Get more bang for your buck. Automate posting.

There are a number of free online tools designed to make posting your content easier. Consider the following.

• IFTTT.com. The If-This-Then-That platform allows you to create “recipes” so that when you post content to one place, it will automatically post to another which can allow you to be active on multiple platforms while expending less effort. For example, if Instagram is your dominant platform, you can set a recipe in IFTTT to automatically post whatever goes on Instagram to Facebook, which gives you more coverage for the same effort.

• Hootsuite.com – Hootsuite is a social media aggregator that allows you to follow, respond and post content across multiple sites. The dashboards make it easy to schedule future posts and stay on top of responses in order to manage all of your sites in one place.

• Buffer.com – Buffer is a great way to take an hour to focus on social media and load it all up to post to your platforms over time. It has a simpler interface than Hootsuite but lacks the response component. Buffer is about rolling out content not managing comments.

4. Build your audience.

Of course, the goal of creating great content is all about building your audience. Here are some accelerators that can help.

• Incentivize sign up. Mailchimp.com makes it easy to create forms for your website where people can sign up to receive something. This might be an e-book or other giveaway. If the giveaway is a document, you can include the link in an automated response from Mailchimp. You can also set up Mailchimp to allow people to subscribe to receive your RSS content via e-mail.

• Give shout outs. People love being acknowledged and social media makes it easy to do that. Share wonderful stories about your clients, send thank you’s or simply document the creative process with photographs. There is a lot to be said about highlighting the people we serve in ways that celebrate the heroes that they are.

• Follow your clients. If you serve churches, then there is good chance both the church itself and the people who work there have social media platforms. Find them and follow them. Chances are they will reciprocate.

Social media can be a vibrant part of a firm’s marketing mix, and while it helps to have a champion who focuses on it for the firm, seller-doers can get a lot of mileage by strategizing their own social media messaging to make it more effective.

 

 

 

 

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