An increasing number of construction companies and professionals involved in the industry are joining Twitter to find out for themselves what the fuss is all about, and hopefully work out how it can benefit themselves or their business for marketing purposes. But what do you do once you’re on it? You set up an account, start following some people/businesses and may even have posted a few links from your website, but …. now what? I’ve seen too many companies launch Twitter profiles, tweet some information for a few months and then disappear off the face of Twitter altogether. Could it be that their was no strategy? Did the marketer within the business have no idea how much time was required to maintain and monitor mentions? Could it be that they didn’t see the value of it? Or did the personnel change and the new person hired to look after the profile had no idea what to do with it? There are so many possible reasons.
In the end it all comes down to planning, forming a social and content strategy, identifying the right metrics to measure your activities and then sticking to it. So, here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you start out on Twitter to ensure you don’t become one of those companies who makes a lot of noise one day but is gone the next.
1. Why am I even using Twitter?
Have you established why you want to use Twitter as a communication channel? Please don’t let the answer to that one be “because my competitors are on it” or “everyone seems to be doing it”. Are you actually a social business? Just because your competition are using Twitter doesn’t mean it will work for you. Also, don’t copy what they do as they may be using it in such a poor way that it’s doing more harm than good to their online brand reputation.
I came across a wonderful quote a few weeks ago which defines how certain channels should be used to gain competitive advantage. It goes something like this:
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
Arie de Geus, Business Strategist and Author
In a way how and why you use Twitter may be the starting point for your social or communications strategy, and is formed around this quote. How are you educating your customers on your area of expertise or specialism? Can you teach your audience and tell them relevant stories rather than constantly trying to out do your competition all the time? I go back to the common company attribute which is ‘we are the technical experts in……..’. I’m sorry but marketing that ‘technical expertise’ attribute isn’t just about having a technical manual available to download on your website or offering your customers CPD sessions because everyone does that. But one thing you can do is integrate Twitter into your overall marketing communications plan. Initiate and participate in educational conversations around specific topics, educate those who have an interest in that particular topic and then bring them back to your website to increase data capture or convert them into a lead.
2. What content do I have of my own which I can share?
Most marketers and business owners begin their social media adventure well before they actually start generating good, unique content which is of value to others. Do you have a white paper or some interesting research results which you want architects or other industry professionals to download, share and comment on? Start off by offering something of value to get people talking about you and what you have to offer online. Don’t just bring people to your website that contains nothing of value to them. You need to arm yourself with enough ammunition (content) before you start your social media strategy and then plan how you will release or publish that content. Otherwise you may end up unable to spark any interesting or relevant conversations and have nothing to say.
3. Does my website allow social sharing?
Most of the time new Twitter profiles start off with “Check out our website for our latest product news and information”. Clicking on the link leads me to one of the worst looking websites I have ever seen! It’s a website which looks unprofessional and has totally changed my perception of that brand that told me to visit the website to see what they do. Another thing is that none of the pages allow me to share the product information with my social network, yet the company are on Twitter? Oh boy!
Ensure you redesign or tweak your website to allow for comments in suitable places (such as a blog), feedback or ratings if required or even just a ‘Share This’ type facility on each product or news page to make it easy for others to share your content. Also remember to ask yourself “why would anyone want to share my ‘Contact Us’ page?” Is the content on that page actually worth talking about, sharing and commenting on? Most people on social networking sites may be visiting your website for the first time so prepare to impress. First impressions count.
4. Is my website already converting more than 10% of non-social traffic?
Why drive more traffic via another channel to your website if it cannot convert any of the existing search traffic, email campaign traffic or banner advertisement traffic into enquiries? It’s important to get your website working for you first before you start adding more traffic to the top of the funnel. Your website will at some point, if not already, become the heart of your digital and social strategy. It will be the place where you want to bring those Architects, Specifiers and Engineers to then convert into a lead/data. Is your positioning statement clear on your homepage? Are there calls to actions on every page? Does your website contain quality content which your prospects will want to download or request? Are you sure that the product selector on your website works and that you’re able to order a sample pack easily and quickly?
5. What do I want to show my boss every month?
Seriously, do you want to be saying this to the Product & Marketing Director every month?
“Boss, 345 tweets this month, 150 followers, 3 replies, 4 Likes, 7 Retweets, 3 mentions and 18 visits to the website. Let’s celebrate!”
Or would you rather say:
“Boss, 345 tweets this month, 3 replies, 4 Likes, 7 Retweets, 3 mentions by Architects who are currently not on our database and 18 visits to the website of which 9 converted into sample requests. Steve is already talking to 2 of them about a potential residential refurb job in Lincoln. Let’s celebrate!”
It’s important to understand what the people above want to see from you every month as part of your departmental report. Make sure you are able to measure what matters. Not just Likes or Retweets or Shares or Followers. Worst of all…..your Klout score! Report figures that mean something to them and indicate that social media is making a relevant contribution towards your business goals, depending on what they are, this could be an increase in brand awareness, lowering customer service costs or an increase in lead generation.
Don’t start until you have set objectives, fixed your website, created some content, made it shareable and decided how you will measure your activity. When did you last take a step back and ask yourself why you are on Twitter? What did you set up to achieve and are you still on that path? Is it working? Are you going round and round and still don’t know why you use Twitter for business?
There are obviously more questions like, ‘who will contribute from within the business’, ‘do you have the buy in from others’, ‘are they aware of your social activity and what happens if you get some negative comments?’ I’ve just picked the above 5 as a good starting point.
Over to you….