Tech Notes article in NE Business / The Journal

by Justin Souter on September 7, 2010

Introduction

In seeking to raise the profile of Souter Consulting, I recently met with Sarah Athey of Codeworks. As a result of her help and prompting, I put together an article for the Tech Notes column in The Journal, a daily paper on Tyneside and Northumberland.

I thought I’d republish it here, so that anyone with strong views can vent them…!

Thanks to Karen next door for the first half-decent photo of me for a while ;-)

Article

Make social networking work for your businessP8310085

Sep 2 2010 by Justin Souter, Souter Consultancy

SO you’re back from holiday and you’re thinking: “Right, what’s next?” You’ve got a Twitter account, a blog, and you’re on Facebook, so you feel you’ve put a tick in that particular box.

But you might also be wondering what they are actually doing for your business?

Now that social media has hit the mainstream, how are you going to move from using it tactically to making sure it’s actually making a measurable difference to your bottom line?

For starters, do you know what folk are saying about you online? If not, you could start by using the free Google Alerts service and receive regular emails to find out what people are saying about your business. If it doesn’t find anything, it’s not necessarily a good thing!

Social media is brilliant for marketing, but it’s also useful for PR purposes, customer support, and generally finding out what your customers are thinking. Even if they’re not Facebook addicts, they’re quite likely to be doing their homework before they arrive in your shop, your forecourt, or your reception – and your relationship with them will have changed.

Are you thinking in terms of goals, phases, measurement, getting everyone on board with your social media initiative? Your team might think social media is great, but when it comes down to scarce time, limited and already committed resources, where will your people find the time to tweet and blog, and what might suffer as a result?

Online interactions are usually spontaneous and therefore clear ground rules will help make sure that everyone in your business is saying the same sort of thing, and reacting in ways which will reflect well on your business.

Social media should arguably be part of your direct reports’ annual review measures. I’m also assuming that you’re integrating your online efforts with your website, or is everything happening without being joined up?

These small things are all part of making your social media initiative stick and become part of how you do business. Whether in B2B or B2C, your customers are online, and tuning into them will require management time and thought, so start preparing now. As an added bonus, many of the tools and techniques can also be used to share information internally, helping raise productivity and boosting the ROI of your social media efforts. If you take the time to consider these points today you could improve your relationship with potential customers and your staff.

Justin Souter is managing director at Newcastle-based Souter Consultancy

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