This weeks posts is another fantastic Q&A with Paul Middleton of Social Colleague.
As we discovered in my popular link building guide, social media is a very powerful and effective tool. In this post Paul talks about his recommend tools, top tips and he also shares his thoughts around social media marketing.
1. Paul, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into all things web, social media and the like?
Well I’ve been in retail management for over 10 years and involved in marketing for the last couple. Social media, specifically for business, has always been a passion. I’ve been involved with creating and distributing content of various kinds for a few years now and recently set up Social Colleague less than a year ago, which allows me to combine all my work experience from various fields.
“there is a social media platform for your company”
2. Social media has been the big buzz word for some time now, why should companies adopt it as a marketing strategy?
This question still continues to be asked by many new business owners, both web’ based and bricks and mortar. Whilst most are starting to understand the potential social media has, we’ve only really reached the point in the past couple of years whereby it’s the norm rather than new! When asked this question, the answer can be different for different businesses. Depending on your product, service, location or business size there is a social media platform for your company which can allow you to engage with your customers, gain new ones and improve your brands reputation.
3. You’ve probably had people say Facebook, Twitter etc wouldn’t work for their business, what would you say to that?
I would say, I’m amazed the diversity of clients we have had at Social Colleague. From Tea wholesalers, business forums, carpet cleaning companies, application developers and chess piece producers. Every single one of those clients has gained in some way from their presence using social media. Ranging from building influence in their chosen field, engaging with clients and customers to promotion new product lines and competitions, it is important to remember social media should not always be about sales.
“not all are focused on simply selling to your customers”
4. Would you agree that certain social platforms are more ideal for B2B or B2C, if so, which ones and why?
I think it’s fairly well known that LinkedIn is regarded as possibly the most successful B2B social media platform there is right now. So yes, without a doubt. Not all are focused on simply selling to your customers.
5. What are your thoughts on Google+ as a social media tool and will it really compete with the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe they are trying to compete with any of the aforementioned social networks. Yes, they clearly have features and tools which combine some of the most popular aspects of Twitter and Facebook in particular, but I’m of the opinion their goal is to harness the power of social media to continue to push search forward. I see it almost as a way of Google saying, “social media is going to play a huge part in the future of our algorithms so why should we both promotion Facebook and Twitter, let’s build out own”.
6. Are there any tools you would recommend, free or paid, to help manage social presences?
Without a shadow of a doubt, HootSuite is the most useful tool out there, a simple dashboard which will allow you to manage multiple social networks and blogs at once. From one simple station. There are free and premium versions and we use it for nearly all our clients. It really is a must.
“it’s important that when you start using social media that you have a strategy”
7. What 3 tips would you give to business owners or companies about to use social media as a strategy?
Great question. The answer is actually part of the question. It’s important that when you start using social media that you have a strategy. Think about what you’re doing, spend some time deciding what you want to achieve and give yourself a realistic time frame in which you want to achieve this. Social media will gobble your time unless you know what you want to get out if it.
8. What are the 3 biggest mistakes you can make using social media and how can you avoid them?
1. Ignoring negative comments is a common mistake, you should turn them to your favour and interact with anyone choosing to criticise your product or service. Show your audience you are professional and willing to listen to your customers.
2. Spreading yourself (or your company) too thinly is a common mistake. Pick 3 social media platforms and focus on these, if you feel confident you can always add more over time.
3. Don’t assume simply by registering on a social network, you will gain a following instantly. Unless you are a celebrity or large organisation, this is simply unrealistic to say the least.
“Twitter, in my opinion, is the customer service social network”
9. What are your top 3 social media platforms to use and why?
Right now it would have to be (and in no particular order), Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
Facebook is in the ‘hearts and minds’ of millions, its place is at the top of the table and I can’t see it changing for a while. Your potential audience is huge.
Twitter, in my opinion, is the customer service social network. It’s fast and simple, easy for both customers and companies to praise and complain. It would be difficult to see Twitter changing this in the future.
Pinterest – much has been made of this very visual social bookmarking sites rise to popularity in the past few months. If your company sells visual products or services, this is extremely powerful. One of our clients experienced a 400% increase in daily traffic simply by pinning the right images from their site at the right time.
10. So tell us about your company ‘Social Colleague’, what you guys do, offer, etc?
Well, we’re providing affordable and cost effective solutions to business owners who want to out source part or all of their social media activity. We pride ourselves on building honest and transparent relationships with our clients. Whilst we are happy to continue growing, we also want to provide the best possible service to each of our clients, so anyone choosing to work with us will be happy to know we’ll dedicate quality chunks of time to your project. We offer services such as content creation and blog management, custom WordPress design, campaign management and more. One of our most popular packages right now is Twitter management.
Note: I couldn’t finish this post without saying a massive “thank you” to Paul for taking the time out and answering my questions. To find out more about Paul and his company, visit Social Colleague today.