Every company has a story to tell. There is the story about its creation and growth. There are stories about its products and solutions. There are insights about its impact on society, markets and individuals. These stories are told through a wide variety of communication platforms. Social Media 101 would recommend defining a plan aligned with your strategy, then using the most popular social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogging) to fulfill that plan. As we enter 2012, lets look at some additional tools that will expand the audience for your business stories!
1. Slideshare - As the name indicates, share your presentations. Not only can companies post presentations and whitepapers, they can create audio to complement the information in the presentations. Slideshare is great outlet for establishing your position in the market, sharing insights in a visual manner, promoting new products, providing "how to" content, and more. Tell stories through graphics, pictures and key highlights.
2. LinkedIn Groups - Every LinkedIn pundit promotes the benefits of a good profile, increasing connections and gathering recommendations. They also encourage involvement in groups, yet many of the individuals that I talk to don't realize the value of groups. There is a group for just about any industry, technology, profession or interest. Your company can create groups specific to product categories or market needs. It provides an alternative channel to promote your company's value. Groups allow members to ask and answer questions between themselves or the group moderator. Stories evolve through these interactions.
3. HootSuite or TweetDeck - Simplify your monitoring and posting of social commentary. Each platform allows users to establish multiple accounts (i.e., on behalf of clients), receive notifications, schedule updates and view multiple columns of content on a single screen. These tools provide a single destination for managing your posts on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, Ping and others. They provide you with instant access to content to keep your story relevant.
4. Apps - 2011 saw the rise of the app as a means of sharing content on mobile devices. Given the restrictions of these devices, apps streamline user access and interaction. Without apps, smartphones and tablets would not be enjoying such high levels of success. The challenge for B2B companies is identifying and developing apps to address employee and customer needs. Apple launched its B2B App Store in late 2011, acknowledging the unique needs of this market segment. Apps simplify how employees or customers can engage with your company while on the go. Some broad ideas for relevant apps could be customer service FAQs, order management, product highlights and demos, need feeds incorporating corporate, industry and social content. Apps help you interact in a new way and share your targeted elements of your story.
Coordinating cross channel communication efforts will be the 2012 challenge for sales, marketing and customer support. Creating and adapting content for use across multiple platforms takes time and talent. Companies will face resource challenges to manage content development and distribution. In parallel, social platforms continue to emerge and there are several technologies that all marketing strategists should be addressing. They include the use of mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets), adoption of monitoring and analytics platforms and the importance of location based services.
Be aware of how any platform can benefit your company's goals as well as increasing awareness and interaction. Use the same methodology you've been using to align and integrate your communications strategy. Define your audiences, the content they need and the best communication channels. Take your strategy to the next level - testing and analyzing platforms relevant for your business and your customers.
What's your perspective?