• What’s a Tweet? Only 23% of IT Firms Have a Social Media Strategy

    Today, businesses are hiring social media experts for customer support, crowdsourced product development, promotions and sales lead generation.  With Twitter, Facebook and blogs having hit critical mass, the issue for most organizations is making the transition from ad hoc profile updates to a long-term strategy of active engagement.

    According to a recent report from Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, “only 23 percent of social strategists have a formalized program with long-term direction.”  What steps can IT companies take to leverage the power of social media networks for marketing in a way that is effective and sustainable?

    According to a white paper entitled “Leveraging the Power of Social Media Networks for B2B Technology Marketing,” published by TSL Technology Marketing, companies seeking to leverage social media networks as part of their IT technology marketing plan should develop a cohesive game plan and message.  Embracing a strategic game plan and message is the key to sustainable social media planning:

    1. Assign Knowledgeable Personnel — The long-term success of social media planning depends on hiring knowledgeable people who can convey a consistent message across all social media outlets.  According to Owyang’s report, the key to hiring the right candidates involves selecting strategists with experience creating successful programs across organizations and finding risk-takers and leaders who are not afraid to experiment with social media programs that take calculated risks.  Recognizing and nurturing social media specialists who blaze new trails is another part of sustainable and effective social media planning.

    2. Develop External Network Presences – Many companies make the mistake of creating profiles on different sites without first developing a cohesive strategy or message.  This isn’t effective use of personnel time and reflects poor long-term social media planning.  Be selective about which social media outlets you use, basing the selection on specific products and services that your company provides and your target customer profile.  Use forums, blogs and custom networks that are a natural fit with your product and service offerings, and then monitor external network presences.

    LinkedIn, one of the largest professional social networks on the Internet, remains one of the best bets for locating target customers for IT technology marketing.  A company profile should be used as the repository for company information on the site with specific individual profiles used to interact with people.  LinkedIn Groups are one of the site’s most powerful tools for locating leads, but users are wary of direct marketing, so this feature should be used to engage actively with potential customers through interaction and discussion.  The LinkedIn Questions and Answers feature should be used to establish legitimacy, expert status and connect with potential customers.

    Twitter is a great resource for providing quick links to content and connecting with potential customers through microblogging.  Twitter accounts should be customized with individual company users presenting a cohesive message.  Actively seek followers whose needs match the company’s products and services by doing a Twitter keyword search for words relevant to your business.  Review results to locate users who are a natural fit with your company.  Twitter should also be used to follow industry competitors and learn about new industry developments.  As with blogs, Twitter is only effective when it is used to engage actively with users on a regular basis.

    A successful example of IT use of Twitter is Breaking Point Systems, a firm that specializes in testing systems for application, performance and security.  The company has embraced Twitter to instantly get the word out about product launches and events, and links in the tweets redirect followers to the Breaking Point website.  The company also includes trivia and games in their tweets, making their Twitter feed more attractive and engaging for users.

    3. Develop Internal Networks — An internal blog continues to be one of the easiest ways to develop a strong online presence and promote active engagement.  Blogs continue to be a viable way to engage a large base of customers and establish legitimacy.  For example, Sun Microsystems, the world leader in computer network infrastructure products and solutions, promotes blogging among its employees and management with a free blogging platform.  By encouraging employees to blog about projects they are working on, Sun is reinforcing its position as a technology leader in its industry.  But in order to be effective, blogs must be regularly maintained and promoted to remain relevant with your target audience.  The importance of keeping blogs current and updated cannot be overstated.

    A company blog can be used to alert readers about new product and service offerings, but social media specialists can engage actively with customers by including the following:  customer interviews, case studies about how products and services are benefiting customers, trade show and conference announcements, guest blog entries from customers or partners, information on third party resources and posts that answer frequently asked questions.

    4. Validate Leads – Social media planning should embed functions that allow for automated lead validation.  Social media outlets will connect users to your company website, links to articles, white papers, support information and related content.  Response information should be tracked with registration functions on your website capturing visitor information.

    Companies seeking to leverage social media networks as part of their IT marketing plan need to invest in sustainable social media planning based on a strategic game plan, active engagement, innovation and a strong, cohesive message.


    “Risk-takers and Strategists: Jeremiah Owyang on Long-Term Social Media Planning”  by Dana Oshiro


    “Leveraging the Power of Social Media Networks for B2B Technology Marketing” (White Paper), TSL Technology Marketing

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