Social media is still in its infancy and companies are scrambling to get a leg up on the competition before it begins to mature. To help them master the fine art of the Tweet, and balance a well managed social media marketing campaign with a traditional marketing campaign, companies need experts.
Social media experts are truly hard to find these days. You might have a cousin in high school who can build a fantastic looking Facebook Fan Page, but can they design and maintain an entire social media marketing campaign? Unlikely.
If you are serious about your business you need to be as serious about the people you hire to market it. Finding someone who is experienced in using social media and has at least a reference or two for you to contact who would be the best place to start. After that you need creativity, imagination, dedication and an excellent work ethic.
Just a few years ago, companies considered Twitter and Facebook only as afterthoughts, leaving their online corporate identities to be managed by college interns or office tech geeks.
Now, companies and nonprofits across the Web are paying closer attention to their social media presence, and defining roles and tasks for their employees. Worried about public relations gaffes and embarrassing tweets, many are crafting social media policies for their employees.
Not everyone has signed on. Managers who believe in using social media for business often have to wage internal campaigns to convince higher ups and staff of its value. In such cases, software such as HootSuite and SocialToaster (which is made by a Baltimore company) can be used to measure the impact of a company’s social media campaigns — key to persuading top executives of their worth.
Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. designated a full-time director of social media and Web engagement last year. And it recently redesigned its website to make it easier for customers to connect with the company on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr.
“This is an enabler for us,” said Rob Gould, BGE’s chief communications officer. “This is something that can add to the customer experience, and if we don’t do it, we risk customer angst for not being in this space.”
Shortly after the utility dedicated itself to monitoring social media and other websites last year, public relations staffers picked up complaints from a blogger that a utility crew had left a large spool of cable in a neighborhood worksite.
BGE responded to the blogger and tracked down the eyesore.
“Within a day, that spool was removed,” Gould said. “In doing so, we changed the dynamic of the conversation [and] the opinion of the customer.”
Social media is now a full-fledged function in BGE’s communications department, Gould said. The utility uses Twitter and Facebook accounts to respond to customer concerns and provide updates during serious storms.
BGE is one of many companies that assign employees to monitor and attempt to address customer concerns raised on Twitter and Facebook before complaints go viral.
The firms also crave feedback, as well as opportunities to build loyalty and good will. With Twitter and Facebook, now attracting hundreds of millions of users, they are spending money on advertising and marketing campaigns on those platforms.
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