Social Media: A Business Perspective

While we might all think that we have a grasp on social media, using it for business strategy is quite a bit different then how most of us use it in our everyday lives. Using social media in a business setting requires marketers to emphasize the opinions of others and what they want to hear, instead of focusing on the organization and the push strategy they might want to employ. Though it is different then how we are used to using social media, it is a crucial part of any organization looking to expand their reach and further emphasize their marketing efforts. MOZ states, “Your customers are online. They are interacting in social channels with their friends, colleagues, and other brains in search of information, recommendations, and entertainment. If your company is not around to answer, a competitor will be.” This is a very concise way of offering simple advice to organizations; your consumers are online and you need to be there too. It is essential that an organizations marketing efforts be “extended” into the social realm because people spend a substantial amount of time in the online world. HubSpot and MOZ both present some key practices that can be useful for marketers and organizations using social media for business purposes; in my opinion, organizations should pay attention to two in particular:

  • Focus on the buyer persona: As discussed in inbound marketing, for social media and content marketing efforts to be successful, organizations most understand their “buyer personas” and whom they are marketing too. MOZ states, “Share content that is tangentially relevant to your business or something involving common interests of your audience.” Focusing on the buyer persona will help organizations with their social media efforts because it will help them to share and create content that will catch the eye of their consumers. If the content is not relevant, it will just be more noise on a consumers timeline, and thus not effective. If organizations can focus on the buyer persona and break through the clutter, they have taken the first step in laying the groundwork for lead generation and growing that relationship with the customer.
  • Build Relationships: In the beginning of the article by MOZ, they offer a very insightful framework to take when approaching social media. They state, “To get the most out of social media, make the relationships you build with them your end goal.” In my opinion, this is a great mindset for organizations to take when approaching social media because it emphasizes that the content should be about “building relationships” and not so much on the promotional side. Organizations can take this mindset and then question every piece of content before they post it. Does this material seek to promote our products and organization over the competitors, or does this content seek to help our consumers and build a trusting relationship? By aiming first to use social media as a relationship building tool, organizations will ideally be able to generate quality leads because the leads are based off of trust more so then promotions.

The following are examples of two companies that have been able to successfully utilize the advice of HubSpot and MOZ to “break down the walls” and build relationships between consumers and organizations via specific social media platforms:

Etsy as a Pinterest Expert
Etsy is an online “community” of artists and “crafters” that make products to be sold via the Etsy website. Every crafter/artist has their own mini site within Etsy where they can showcase their offerings and consumers can make purchases. As a customer of Etsy myself, I found Pinterest to be a very fitting social media platform for Etsy to utilize because it is an efficient way to put their product offerings on display in a medium that reaches a large portion of their target market. However, Etsy is utilizing Pinterest in several other ways that make it a crucial strategic social media platform for their organization:

  • In their discussion of Pinterest, MOZ highlights the idea of sharing pictures on Pinterest that are “relevant to an organizations industry” but not necessarily pictures of that organizations products. MOZ claims that, “Pinterest doesn’t have to be just about your product images. Go off topic a little, but stay relevant.” Etsy does an incredible job of following suit with MOZ’s instructions as they have numerous boards that highlight Etsy products such as “Etsy Jewelry,” and some boards that highlight other categories that appeal to Etsy’s target market such as “Entertaining.” Pinterest describes Etsy’s use of their platform in the following way: “The Etsy team was drawn to the visual nature of Pinterest as a way to showcase items for sale in the Etsy marketplace…Their editorial teams post new pins daily to Etsy’s boards, drawing from Etsy items as well as content from other sites, inspired by what’s trending on Pinterest.” By posting content that is a bit “off topic,” Etsy is employing a good social media strategy because it “breaks up” the constant promotions that are pushed at consumers on a daily basis. In a way, it shows that Etsy is “human” and while they have a great products to sell, they have other interests that they like to speak too. MOZ advocates going off topic because it’s a way to build “likeability” and “familiarity.” By posting images that are trending on Pinterest that day, Etsy is making themselves more relatable to consumers, thus laying the groundwork for building a relationship. For example, someone may have pinned an image of a vacation location and then notice that Etsy pinned the same picture. This creates a connection between the consumer and Etsy, and lets them know that they have similar interests. Organizations can take this lesson from Etsy and apply it to their own Pinterest’s by using this platform as a medium to build relationships and “familiarity” with their consumers. Share images that are not strictly of your products and step away from the constant promotional push. Organizations will benefit from these actions because, like Etsy, it makes them more relatable and presents them as an organization with similar interests to their consumers. This is opposed to an organization that strictly uses social media to further push and promote. Organizations that make an effort to be relatable are taking strides toward building a relationships, which in turn creates quality lead generation.
  • HubSpot and MOZ both harp on the idea of “sharing other peoples content” and highlighting customers on social media platforms and allowing them to feel “included.” Etsy puts this principle to work in the best way possible on Pinterest, via “Guest Pinners.” Because Pinterest is all about images, it is difficult to share content that other people have created. However, Etsy compensates for this by allowing people to take over their Pinterest and pin items they feel are “trendsetting.” Etsy features several types of guest pinners ranging from their own “Etsy Sellers” to “Popular Bloggers.” Etsy is employing a good social media technique on Pinterest that organizations should take note of because it emphasizes consumer inclusion. Like stated previously, both HubSpot and MOZ define sharing others content as a “best practice.” MOZ states, “It will appeal to their natural desire to be acknowledged and included. This also helps them feel like they ‘ve added value back to their community and instills a sense of ownership.” Etsy allowing guest pinners to take over their Pinterest, shows they trust their “communities” opinion on “trendsetting” images and that they want their sellers/consumers to be highlighted on their boards. Organizations can benefit from including others content on their social media platforms because it is again helps to build that customer relationship. Allowing consumers to have a say and highlighting their content (or in this case, their opinion on trendsetting pins) will bring about positive feelings and let consumers know they can relate to and trust the brand because they have some ownership in it. Again, being able to relate and creating trust are stepping stones in working towards an organizations “end goal” of social media; building relationships. Building these relationships will provide organizations with quality lead generations.

Pure Leaf Iced Tea as a Facebook Fanatic
When I think about Facebook as a social media platform that can provide an advantage to organizations that utilize it correctly, I think about organizations who are able to use Facebook as a medium to make themselves more personable and create a brand personality. Facebook is a social media platform that is designed to focus on the “audience” and not “conversion rates,” as MOZ put it. I was instantly drawn to the Pure Leaf, iced tea company, Facebook page because they hit on several of the general requirements for a successful Facebook Page:

  • One of the main lessons that HubSpot presents when talking about social media tactics, and inbound/content marketing strategies in general, is to focus on the buyer persona. What are your buyers interested in, and how can you help them. MOZ joins in on this same conversation when they state, “Make your audiences experience on Facebook about their experience and their connections rather than your CTR and conversion rates.” Pure Leaf Tea is an impeccable example of understanding buyer persona and creating/sharing content that is aimed at their interests and needs. It is clear from their Facebook that Pure Leaf Iced Tea understands the healthy ways of their target market as they share numerous nutritious recipes and videos about these healthy eats (some have no relation to Pure Leaf Tea at all, and some do). They are focusing their Facebook content around the “audience’s experience” putting clear emphasis on the healthy life-style that their target market aims for. One of my favorite pieces of content on Pure Leaf Tea’s Facebook page is an image they posted that reads, “There’s no substitution for real, leaf-brewed iced tea, but here are some easy swaps for all your other culinary concoctions.” After this blurb they had an image that offered several substitutes such as avocado and apple sauce that can replace unhealthy ingredients such as butter and sugar. This piece of content they shared is a perfect example of Pure Leaf Iced Tea understanding their buyer persona (healthy living) and providing content that helps their audience obtain this healthy life style, without too much emphasis on their own products. In addition, HubSpot and MOZ emphasize using a lot of images and “making it fun and personal.” Pure Leaf Iced Tea is doing just that as almost every post is attached to an image or video that is “fun” and informative for the audience. Even further, MOZ emphasizes the timing of posts and being aware of when people check Facebook. The majority of Pure Leaf Iced Tea’s posts are in the morning or around lunchtime, which shows they are paying attention to the breakfast and lunch hours that are prevalent to their audience.

  • Overall, organizations can learn a great deal from the Pure Leaf Facebook page because they provide an excellent example of how to create a light/fun marketing environment that really emphasizes their “buyer persona.” While some of the content is promotional, it is all presented in a way that is relevant to the consumer and shows Pure Leaf products being incorporated into healthy dishes (promotional, yet informational for the consumer). Facebook is a great social media platform for tailoring content towards the buyer persona, and organizations can reap the benefits of Facebook by focusing on their audience and generating content that evokes a relevant brand personality. Organizations sharing content that is centered on the audience further works to build customer relationships, because it shows customers that the organization understands their needs. The organization has vested the time to understand their audience, and they care about their interests/wants, sometimes over promotions. As organizations focus in on their buyer persona’s, post relevant content, use images etc. consumers will start to become more comfortable with the brand and this will ideally generate leads. The consumer now has seen the more “human” side of the brand and can further relate to the organization.

All quotes, statistics, and images came from the following links:
Pinterest Image
MOZ Article
HubSpot Lesson
Etsy Pinterest Success Story
Pure Leaf Iced Tea Facebook Page
Pure Leaf Image
Pure Leaf Substitute Image

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