If you work in defense, know that some of your most important customers — the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — were early adopters that now fully leverage the power of social media. They use it for its convenience, reach, affordability and effectiveness, the very same reasons it has become the medium of choice for terrorist organizations worldwide. Like it or not, it works.
In a recent study that looked at the use of social media in the defense industry, Defence IQ found that 62% of respondents (prime contractors, subcontractors, and the media) believe that it is very important or essential to improve their online and social media presence by 2017.
Here’s how to make social media work for your business.
- Have a plan and a purpose
To be effective, it’s essential to understand why you are using social media, how it will connect to your overall marketing and communications strategy, and what you want to accomplish. Your plan should also include a budget, process and dedicated staff fully qualified for the work. Maintain an editorial plan, but be flexible enough to react to timely events. And always support your brand and maintain a consistent voice across platforms.
- Pick your platforms
From Facebook and Twitter to online forums, LinkedIn and YouTube, you’ll have more options than time, so be strategic in selecting the correct channels. The Defence IQ report found, for example, that government-related audiences favor corporate websites by a wide margin, followed by YouTube, LinkedIn, targeted content, Facebook, Slideshare, and Twitter. It’s interesting to note that government contractors vastly misjudged what channels their customers view as most effective. As with any form of marketing, it’s critically important to fully understand the people you are trying to reach.
- Know your audience
Find and follow your audience to learn what interests them. Search hash tags or use a tool like “we follow” to listen and learn, then use the knowledge to tailor content. Bear in mind that social media requires some trial and error. You’ll need to experiment with each channel’s unique audience to determine what resonates best with your fan base. But if you give them what they want, your audience will find you.
- Make it worthwhile
Whatever you do, don’t sell. Don’t make it all about you. And don’t bore your audience by recycling press releases or rehashing old news. Help, engage and inform, all in a relevant, audience-centric way. If you give them a reason to return, they will.
- Analyze and improve
By establishing a plan and purpose, you have set goals for your social media program. Now it’s time to monitor and measure success. It’s important to keep track of posts, frequency, and engagement to determine the best social media plan moving forward. For example, you’ll want to determine when users are active online on each platform and post during those times. Also, Google Analytics is an important tool that can tell you if social media is driving traffic to your website, because that’s where the majority of B2B buying decisions start and end.
- Did you know?
The Federal Trade Commission requires that you disclose any relationships with anyone you may be promoting. A helpful article explaining this regulation can be found here.
B2B expert MarketingSherpa recently published new information detailing engagement and reach of the top social networks. Learn more here.