How can entrepreneurs benefit from social media

This is how companies benefit from social media

Wolfgang Emmer

With our four professional tips, companies use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms successfully.

EnlargeThis is how companies benefit from social media
©ünay Mutlu

Social media has made its way into Germany as a marketing and communication tool. However, true to the motto “being there is everything”, most companies only need to passively use their own profiles in social networks.

IT companies, of all things, are still neglecting social media as a form of communication. Just one in five German IT companies takes social networks seriously as a communication tool.

Most companies should be aware, however, that this carelessness should not get you very far on the social web. Instead of simply participating in social media, because many websites and industry news advise, social media should actually be implemented. After all, this form of communication lives from a “social component”, as the name suggests.

With just a few simple tips, a simple social media profile can be turned into a business-friendly appearance. However, it is always important to understand that you are in direct contact with people on social networks.

1. Personalize social media platforms

As a basic tip, so-called automatic publication services should be avoided in all cases of social media presence. Companies often make the mistake of doing this and use pre-programmed time slots to publish pre-programmed posts.

Users often recognize at first glance that such postings are not individual statements. A human and personal character are crucial for a successful appearance in social networks.

EnlargeAutomatic publishing services such as Hootsuite advertise with professional social media presences without any intervention on the part of the company. In terms of customer proximity, that can't work.

Ready-made text modules, however, give potential customers the impression that the company does not value direct contact via social platforms.

Daily updated, individual postings with different text lengths, pictures, videos or links, on the other hand, arouse interest, attention and trust. The company is perceived and accepted as an active part of the social network community. If you don't trust your responsible employee to do this, you should look for a trained social media manager.

2. The primary goal should not be selling

Customers are well aware that as a company you would like to sell something. This can be the new smartwatch, an IT solution or a new lawnmower. But as much as new products are valued by customers, they rarely want to be forced to buy on social networks.

EnlargeUS farmer Derek knows the craft of viral videos. Among other things, he advertises his farm with clips of how he uses a tractor to shape his cows into smiley faces.

Rather, they should win the customer's interest in your company. Deliver interesting, varied and perhaps even unique content. The goal should of course be that the customer likes to visit your channel regularly or gets stuck in their timeline with your posting.

For this purpose, companies that operate successful social media marketing often use simple methods. The viral video can be cited as the best-known example here. The goal is to create a video that users find so good that they voluntarily share it with their friends.

But also insights behind the scenes can be perfectly staged via social media. They give the customer an insight into your company, appear transparent and inspire trust. So do not show "which" product is new with every post, but rather, for example, how you got the idea or how the product was developed.

3. Use social media daily and in a powerful way

Regular postings are essential to turn users into fans and potential customers into customers. Companies that publish one to five pieces of content a day on social networks are remembered by the user.

However, this free form of advertising should not be maxed out. Users who are bored with irrelevant content - in the worst case several times a day - will no longer visit or even block the social media presence of the respective company.

So ensure that the content is varied, based on the mood of the user, for example depending on the time of day or season, day of the week or in relation to upcoming vacations and holidays.

EnlargeThe German Tobit.Labs post pictures and individual texts on new achievements, developments and new employees on a daily basis.

If you pay attention to the content of the orientation points mentioned above, then the first stone is laid for the posting. With regard to the content of the post, creativity and visual media are in particular demand. Photos and (short) videos in particular arouse the interest of users. You have to keep in mind: The user of social networks scrolls through countless posts without a goal. In order for a company to attract attention, the user's attention must first be aroused.

Photos from trade fairs, company parties or business trips are an option. Or show what your company looks like. What did you find special in the camp? Or which old telephone system is finally being disposed of?

In the end, it is not just the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” that draws here. Rather, images from day-to-day business include the customer and let him become a part of it via social networks. The quality of the pictures and videos is not decisive. Rather, you give the company a face that is close to the customer.

4. Enjoyment of discussion and humor are crucial

Users and potential customers on social media platforms love the discussion. Social networks are used to exchange information, to present one's own knowledge and even to reduce anger.

However, companies in particular often shy away from entering into such discussions. The social network actually demands direct contact. Social here means interacting with other people. And this interaction is not only wanted by a company, it is expected.

So don't be afraid to get in touch with users. Try to answer questions honestly and to counter (justified) anger, for example about one of your products, with humor. Users appreciate it when they are observed. And the humor on the part of the company underlines what social networks ultimately represent for many people: a leisure activity.

There are many examples of possible customer reactions. The decisive factor, however, is the intention that a user had when commenting on a post. Two common situations on social media platforms are the “troll” and the dissatisfied customer.

The word troll describes people who consciously want to cause trouble. If you are dealing with a so-called "troll" then react carefully. So, approach it with humor here, even if it's an inappropriate cat video. React to the content of such posts with the knowledge that the user wants to provoke.

However, if the upset of a user actually relates to an existing problem, an honest reaction must take place. After an initial response, an offer of direct contact can also defuse the situation on your social media channel and move it to more discreet customer support.

Social media as a platform for corporate identity

The use of social media channels has already arrived in the German corporate world. But many companies still have to work on the fine-tuning. Experience with this relatively young medium is decisive here. But also basic guidelines and tips, such as those in this guide, can produce initial success.

If you follow these tips, you can create your very own social identity for your company. Reflect on whether your target group is more likely to be on Twitter or Facebook and provide as unique and different content as possible for each individual social media channel.

EnlargeMicrosoft puts people in the foreground in its postings, not the product.