Whenever I hear about a new company or get referred to someone, the first thing I do is check out their digital presence. What does their website look like? Do they have social profiles and what are they doing with them? What comes up when I Google them?
This is standard practice for an increasing number of people. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of all the online sources of information out there to learn something about a new entity?
Working in the digital and social media space, I always look to see how social media is integrated into a new entity’s online brand presence. If I see a Twitter and LinkedIn icon on their website, that’s where I start my online research.
The inactive Twitter account
Recently, I visited a website that had just been rebranded and was looking pretty good. I found the Twitter icon and clicked it. As the Twitter account profile loaded, I saw a tweet from 2012. As I scrolled down, I see several other tweets…from 2012.
Wait, what! Your organization hasn’t shared anything on Twitter for over five years!?
Talk about sending a mixed message! Hey, look at us, we’re on social media! Actually, just kidding…we pay no attention to it.
This company just invested precious time and money on a corporate rebranding process and it occurred to no one realized their inactive Twitter account was a liability.
This is not uncommon. It reflects, in my opinion, a profound misunderstanding of the role that social media and social networking should play in corporate communications.
The social telephone
The term ‘social telephone’ is sometimes used as a metaphor to describe social media. You don’t hear that term as much anymore because social media has been hijacked by marketers who view it as nothing more than a platform for selling people stuff – everywhere and all the time. I understand that businesses have to sell things, but every communication tool is not best used as a marketing megaphone.
Take your mobile smartphone, for instance. You could be using that phone to call prospects and ask for their business, all day and every day. But you don’t, right? You’re carrying around this amazingly powerful telephone and computer in your pocket all the time, but you’re not using it to ask for business at every chance you get, are you?
That’s because you realize your phone is more valuable than that. You use your phone contextually and strategically to talk to the right people, at the right time, and deliver the right message.
The same is true of social media as the “social telephone”. It’s not all about selling all the time. It’s about winning prospects’ attention, contributing value to conversations, and helping people understand key issues – at the right place and the right time.
Digital presence as a reflection of your business
Savvy businesses understand that it’s not just about saying you have a Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook or Instagram account, but that it’s about using those accounts to have valuable conversations with your audience.
When I see a company that has invested in its brand and website, but is neglecting their inactive Twitter and social networking accounts, the following thoughts go through my mind:
- Are they aware this reflects badly on their brand? (Perhaps they’re not as savvy as they want me to believe.)
- Why are they ignoring the social channel that so many of us consider so important? (Maybe they don’t care about how we want to interact with them.)
- What else are they ignoring in their business that I should be wary of? (I’m already starting to think that maybe they’re not the best fit for me.)
Companies that are seen to be engaging in social networks, adding value and having conversations are deemed to be socially and digitally literate. Increasingly, this kind of digital literacy and engagement qualifies (or disqualifies) you to do business with a growing segment of your market.
Engage your online community
Social networking is about community building – and EVERY business is built on a community. Or communities, plural.
Your clients, who have decided to do business with you are a community. Your employees who work with you are a community. The industry (or industries) within which you offer products and services are online and offline communities. The locales where you work and within which you live are communities.
Online social networks can connect us with these communities. Businesses that engage within their communities, both online and offline, will reap the rewards.
With that in mind, what should you do about your inactive Twitter account? If you have no intention of engaging your audience and communities online, then kill it. It’s doing more harm than good sitting out there all pathetic and neglected.
Or, choose to invest in your digital presence. Build your communities online. Show your clients, prospects, employees and partners that your business is alive – that there is vitality and relevance pulsing through your company’s digital veins.
Looking for insights into how to build your digital presence, check out these articles:
- How to grow impressions and engagement on Twitter
- How to use curation as the foundation of your social strategy
- How these 5 underused B2B content types will drive website traffic and engagement
- How to avoid these easy mistakes with your Linkedin profile
Or, drop us a line and let’s talk about ow you can turn your online social network presence from a liability into a reason to do business with you!