Change3 Enterprises LLC

Optimal Social Media Strategy for Tech Companies

Part 1 of the Social Geek Series

Written by Kneko Burney on August 3, 2016.

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As a technology provider, reaching customers is paramount to growing your business, and there’s no better (or affordable) way to market yourself than through social media. However, starting the right conversations and targeting the right audience can be challenging, especially if you have complex solutions. 

 

How should tech providers leverage social media?

It’s simple.  It all boils down to your content and expertise.

 

  1. Use social media to promote your thought leadership – like blogs, videos, webinar recaps and speaking slots at conferences.
  2. Use Social Media advertising - dollar for dollar, this channel is one of the most affordable ways to promote your brand.  Arguably, the traffic coming from social media sites has a relatively high bounce rate – but it’s comparable to bounce rates for other digital advertising such as paid search or display ads.  Facebook seems to have some of the lowest costs per engagement and is very effective at driving traffic to your website (especially to a blog OR a focused solution, app or offer).  The only drawback to social advertising is the targeting capabilities, which are very robust and sometimes don’t map directly to our standard segmentations.  With some adaptations, this can be a power channel to drive new visitors and potential leads to your website.
  3. Engage in user groups: there are literally thousands of discussion groups on social sites, namely LinkedIn, where people have some level of engagement (varying greatly).  Though this may not be the best way to promote yourself (because your competitors probably have the same idea) – it can support a broader social strategy AND help your sales people start to better understand the preferences of contacts in your sales & marketing database.
  4. Start Social Selling: because tech providers have to really fight to get the attention of IT decision makers (one of the most marketed-to groups in the world), being able to get personal could be your best foot in the door.  When you train your sales team to research new leads or contacts in your CRM system, one of the first places they should start is on that individual’s LinkedIn profile, then Facebook and Twitter and so on.  We all leave a trial of breadcrumbs of who we are as people and what are interests are (intentionally and unintentionally) on social media.  Let your sales people take advantage of this – because if they don’t, your competitors surely will.

 

Examples of Social Selling & Social Marketing among leading Vendors

The leading tech vendors are generally well advanced with regard to their social strategies – with most of them putting big investments into digital marketing in 2016 and beyond.  You’ll find that they have guidelines for how their employees’ profiles should read on LinkedIn and Twitter, who can post what, and often have multiple resources to manage their various social media accounts – which correspond to specific products, solutions and services.

 

Let’s have a look at what some of these companies do today…

IBM – Social Sharing Since 1970

 

IBM has actually been using “social media” before there were today’s popular social networks. During this time, many of IBM’s programmers were using discussion forums, which then turned into their intranet, with more customized content, features, and online ‘jams’ where employees could discuss critical business aspects. As Director of Social Strategy and Programs, Ethan McCarty, once stated, one of the lessons the company learned was that channels and content were different from networks and interactions and mistaking one for the other would cause a failure in authenticity, credibility, and usefulness.

 

Some of the ways IBM is using social –

 

  • Sharing infographics, videos, and photos
  • Utilizing their Voices site, a blog site that is mostly written by IBM employees, including the CEO
  • Blogging/discussing various trends, challenges, and advancement within the industry
  • Helping sellers find and stay connected
  • Providing training and building awareness

 

 

 

IBM’s social platform is very big on sharing visual content, which is usually taken from their Voices site. This not only helps to make their content more interesting, but it also helps to show their expertise within the industry.

 

Microsoft – Products that Say Something

 

As a company that caters to both businesses and consumers, Microsoft’s social strategy adheres to meet both of these objectives. The company has several pages for its various products – Office, XBOX, Windows Phone – but their main Facebook corporate page is the one that’s the most active, thanks to eye-catching visual content.

 

 

 

Not being tied to one specific product allows the company page to explore topics like trivia questions, showcasing some of their Windows desktop themes, and promos for some of their products which are done with wonderful visual content. Microsoft is also using social for –

 

  • Balanced mix of visual content and questions to keep fans engaged
  • Links to their marketplace for their XBOX page
  • Customer/technical support on Twitter

 

Their LinkedIn page showcases some of their insights, including programs to help those with autism, tips on getting into certain tech industries, and growing trends in tech. As with IBM, Microsoft not only delivers on its technical expertise, but it also offers support and advice to both consumers and businesses.

 

Cisco – Tomorrow Starts Here

 

 

Cisco began to look in to new social media strategies to help connect to their partners and other businesses. These strategies included reviewing how their Twitter hashtags worked with followers, increasing usage by 440%, using influencers and expert voices with their Future of IT podcast channel, and utilizing graphics and videos. To date, Cisco is using –

 

  • Podcasts to deliver key insights from technology experts
  • Vine videos to deliver statistics, information, and insights
  • Social good campaigns, such as their IoT Challenge for Women
  • Twitter chat events to cover industry topics

 

Cisco not only uses their social media to connect, they use it to engage, market, and teach both their consumers and business partners.

 

Table Stakes for Geeks in Social Media

Though most tech providers don’t have dedicated social media teams and can’t afford to focus only on social media, there are some minimum things you should be sure to incorporate into your overall marketing activities.

 

  1. Have a complete company profile on LinkedIn. This should include an attractive splash, your logo, a full description and regular posts (more than 5).  Also take some time to build up your followers as well.
  2. A complete Facebook company page, with the same information.  Same as above, you can use the SAME content on LinkedIn and Facebook (and on Google+)– though some vendors differentiate.  For a small or mid-sized tech provider, no need to add this extra workload.  Publish the same content – you’re using these two channels as different outreach platforms – so having a unified message on both is actually a good thing.
  3. Consider Google+: It’s definitely not as popular, but has some interesting features (like Chats and video discussions), as well as the added benefit of using other Google services (like YouTube and Search).  Some believe that Google+ also resonates better with a technical audience.  Nonetheless, if you do build a presence here – you can use the same content as your other two primary social networks.
  4. If you Invest in Twitter – make sure you’re retweeting relevant content, as well as posting original tweets (preferably with an image).  Twitter can require more effort than LinkedIn or Facebook, so make sure you have the resources to use this channel effectively.
  5. Use a Social Media Management Platform – for just a few dollars a month, you can subscribe to one of many social media management platforms, like Hootsuite, which can make it very easy for your marketing team to manage your various social media accounts.

Taken together, these different strategies can help promote your technical business to both technical and non-technical audiences by showcasing your brand’s expertise, knowledge, and professionalism. If your brand is struggling to keep up with your social media or you’re unsure how to get started, let our team of social media experts help you on this journey by contacting us.

 

Resources

Inside IBM’s Social Content Strategy

IBM Voices

How IBM Uses Social Media to Sell, Sell, Sell

Top Tech Companies Find Success Through Social Media

How Microsoft use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and Google+

Case Study: How Microsoft uses Social Media

Cisco Vine Channel

5 B2B Social Media Lessons Cisco Learned in 2014

Cisco Social Media Marketing – Top 5 Social Media Programs for 2012

Happy Anniversary, #CiscoChat


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