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HMC News: Do you need to get social?

Do you need to get social?

By Heather Claycomb, HMC Communications

Social media isn't new. And chances are, your business has a few social media accounts you set up years ago.

Whether your profiles are active, however, is another story.

You are not alone. Many companies jumped onto social channels in the early days but enthusiasm and effective use quickly waned.

If you've found yourself questioning the value of social media – or even seriously thinking of deleting your accounts because you've reaped zero value - then stay tuned!

Over the next three editions of Waikato Business News, the HMC Communications team will help you: 1) determine if you need to be there; 2) choose the right channels for your business; and 3) use some tips and tricks to make it work really well.

This month we're discussing: "Should your business be on social channels?" To help you make this decision, ask yourself three questions:

Is your audience there?

If you sell a product targeting young mums, there's no question you need to be on several social media channels because your audience is there.

If you are an OEM making widget parts, then it's unlikely social is for you. But not so fast: depending on your export markets, LinkedIn could help you find leads, but channels like Instagram and Snapchat will be a waste of time.

So, as a first step, do your research to find out if your audience is a 'social beast.' Troll the internet for statistics on audience figures for different channels – this is easy information to find.

Do you have the resource to manage it?

Two of the biggest myths about social media are: 1) you can effectively reach your audience for free; and 2) it takes virtually no time to manage.

These myths are far from the truth.

First of all, you need to commit an advertising budget to reach your audience. Most channels changed their rules in recent years – just because you post something doesn't mean your audience sees it. You need to spend money to advertise and reach your audience effectively.

For instance, Facebook rules only allow around 4% of the people who like your page to see your posts. There are two ways to change this. The first is to have an incredibly engaging post (think videos and photos) – as people start to share, comment and like Facebook will let more people see your post. The second way to reach your audience is to pay.

And to debunk the second myth: doing social well requires a lot of time and effort to develop a strategy, put together your six-weekly posting calendar, source amazing photos and videos essential for engaging posts and continually analyse engagement and audience statistics to refine your strategy.

Don't forget, too, that social doesn't only happen between nine and five. For most audiences, early mornings and evenings are when they're online and that means you've got to be there too. Are your staff able to commit to significant time after hours? This is important to consider before jumping in.

Are you a business that's in the public eye?

If you are a business, or part of an industry, that is in the public eye then, sorry, you have no choice. You've got to be on key social channels.

Remember, if you are a high-profile business, people are talking about you on social channels – whether you are there or not. We've worked with a few clients who were not on Twitter, but people are there talking about their products all the time (good and bad). Those companies were missing out on the ability to join in the conversation.

The other great opportunity is using social channels to 'amplify' your news stories and get conversations going around the topics. As traditional media channels shrink or amalgamate and as newsrooms are strapped for resource, you need to take control of your own news and find additional distribution channels. Social is often the solution.

Remember too that social channels literally explode with conversation in a crisis. If you aren't familiar with key social channels, have the resource to manage and monitor them and have your staff trained and ready to respond in a crisis, your brand reputation is at huge risk.

Have you answered yes to these three questions? Then your business needs to get your social sorted.

Stay tuned for next month's column from the HMC team. In September, we'll talk about the different social channels available and how to determine which ones are right for your organisation.

Check out our social media videos here.

Heather Claycomb is the Director of HMC Communications, an award-winning Hamilton-based public relations agency. See for our videos about social media tips and more.