Do you use social media tools for networking, marketing or both?

There still seems to be a lot of confusion around social media in general and whether businesses should be using the channel for marketing or networking purposes. Companies in the construction industry wonder what social media platforms and tools are the most effective, how to go about forming relationships, what conversations to engage in and how to measure campaign results.

Social media networking is the process of interacting with other individuals through a specific social media tool or community. Networking is crucial for increasing  awareness and encouraging people to talk about you and your company whilst listening to what others say about you and your brand. Business leads can be generated from networking on professional sites such as LinkedIn where industry knowledge and expertise can be shared by engaging in group discussions. But is this type of exchange suitable for brands or rather for individuals (employees) representing the brand?

Business or brand profiles tend to be geared towards social media marketing rather than networking purposes. Sure, you want to engage in conversations and share interesting content with customers and prospects, but there is still some formality that remains because you are representing your business. Brands can use their social media profiles for brand building purposes and increase their company reputation by positioning themselves as experts within their field. Publishing relevant content in the form of blogs or articles builds up trust amongst industry professionals by showing them that you ‘know your stuff’.

Brands and businesses should set up company social media profiles but also encourage employees to do the same and act as brand advocates. Through employees, construction companies can make marketing more personal by speaking to industry peers on sites such as Twitter. Employees can use their social media accounts to network on behalf of the company and use this to drive people towards the company website/profile so that conversations can hopefully turn into business prospects. However, all interaction should have a strategy behind it so that every action is geared towards a set measurable objective or goal.

I think there should be a slightly different strategy for the main brand/company profile, focused on marketing activities such as brand building and reputation management, whilst employee profiles can be used for networking to build relationships and trust (through recommendations and testimonials) amongst industry peers who will then seek out the company profile when wanting to do business with you.

Whether you are using social media for networking or for marketing purposes make sure you set measurable goals, targets and objectives so that time spent on social networking sites is not wasted. Social media, like other forms of traditional marketing should involve strategy development. You wouldn’t create a print campaign without first establishing how it ties into your overall strategy and knowing what tactics to use to implement it. So why are you not using the same approach for social media?

I therefore pose the following question: Is social media networking more appropriate for individuals and social media marketing better suited for brands? And how can brands use their employees to do the networking for them? What do you think?

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

5 Responses to “Do you use social media tools for networking, marketing or both?”

  1. José Ballesteros

    I have been involved in this social media marketing-branding-networking storm recently, and this is one of the best questions a social media entrepreneur should ask and practice before going into business

  2. Ryan

    Another interesting article Ayaan.

    We had the same dilema with tCn. We wanted it to appeal to individuals but also companies and organisations connected with our industry.

    I think your right in that individuals should stick to social media networking and let their marketing departments keep a structured way of posting content etc via social media marketing for their brand.

    Ultimately I think companies content and activity should always link back to their website with specific calls to action (for measurement and ROI purposes) while individuals should focus on building personal contacts and stay away from general company posts or stements etc.

    We’e found that more with SME’s and have tried to encourage them to keep it seperate if possible.

    • AyaanMohamud

      Thank you for your comments, I guess this is a topic that affects all of us at some point. Where do you draw the line between networking and marketing? Is there a clear line first of all?

      Once networking gets serious and people start to get real work from it, do they then become marketers for the company? If so, do they then fall into the marketing bracket? Is there a consistency between the companies marketing messages and the messages broadcast by networkers. I think there is a definite need for some sort of consistency. Remember, its not about individual goals, but the benefit of the business. Right?


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