Successful Social Media: Interview with Webcredible
Social media is often seen as a great equaliser for small businesses. New Media Knowledge caught up with Web usability firm Webcredible to see how it had exploited social media to help generate traffic, new business leads and carry out market research. By Chris Lee.
By Chris Lee
There has plenty of hype surrounding social media marketing for businesses. Studies in the US suggest that the use of social media platforms by small businesses has doubled in the last year from 12 per cent to 24 per cent. But is social media the Holy Grail for marketers?
One firm which has seen tangible benefits from social media engagement and marketing is Web usability specialist Webcredible. NMK caught up with the company’s head of marketing, Claire Savage, about how the company has successfully exploited various social platforms, particularly Twitter, not only to generate leads but also for market research purposes.
How did Webcredible get into social media and which tools did you use?
Prior to 2008 we relied heavily on our website and email newsletter, which had over 16,000 subscribers. Before we took the step into social media we decided to look at what our clients were doing and how our target audiences would like to interact with us. We set up a blog, which now integrates into LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, where we have just under 2,000 followers.
Twitter for us is about a two-way conversation and we monitored that for some time before adopting it.
What media has worked best for you and why?
Facebook for us has not been the most successful. As social media grows and more business-to-business (B2B) companies come on board I think there’ll be a clear division on which tools to use for which market you’re in. Facebook is more consumer-focussed, so if you’re in that sphere you’ve definitely got to be on Facebook.
For us, Twitter has been our most successful tool. We’ve created a great number of followers and our brand’s all about thought leadership; it’s about sharing our knowledge so Twitter is the perfect tool for that. LinkedIn is becoming a stronger player. We use is to see what target audiences are saying on LinkedIn, trends they’re talking about, we’ve also used it for research. People forget that you can test things on social media. We conduct polls and ask questions to test what people are thinking.
With so many new social media platforms emerging, are you an early adopter or a wait-and-see type?
We tend to monitor first. We’re watching what other people are doing. What’s important in social media is that you can play around with it on a personal scale, but we will adopt [platforms] quite early.
The cost of content is huge. If we started uploading all our content onto social media platforms, that might eat away to some degree on our in-house value. Because so much content is readily available online, people have to be very careful. If content is fundamental to your business model you could be giving too much as and therefore decreasing the value of it in the customer’s eyes.
How do you measure the impact and return on investment of your social media campaigns?
For us, we use social media for direct conversations with our target audiences. It brings more people to our website and then converts to leads, particularly on our training courses. It’s about increasing our brand awareness and image.
We tend not to use the number of followers [for measurement]. In terms of return on investment it would be more based on our website analytics – how many people are we drawing from social media to our website?
What are your top tips for businesses to maximise social media effectiveness?
The number one point is to do your research from the start. Social media is just another tactic. Really think about your target audience, what platforms will they use, how will they want to be communicated to?
It’s also about integration, not using social media in isolation. Social media is not just one channel; why not integrate it with your other marketing activities? Social media is very time consuming so companies need to be very clear on how they’re going to resource it and be clear about how they’re going to use it. It’s pointless setting up a Twitter account and saying “hi, this is our first tweet” and then do nothing for months.
It’s a constant, 24/7 game. You need to have someone monitoring your social media presence. When someone comes back to you on social media you’re going to need an instant response. You need to plan your content; social media is all about content.
You can hear the full interview at the author’s podcast on social media success.