Social media has its flaws, but it’s a useful tool for branding and marketing. For managed service providers (MSPs), it provides a ready-made vehicle to stay in touch with customers, inform them of new offerings, and get instant feedback.
Treated seriously, social media can become a core part of your marketing efforts. Just don’t approach it as an afterthought, posting content sporadically when you finally get around to it. Rather, come up with a plan to use it regularly, engaging customers and leveraging them to become advocates for your brand.
Follow these tips to get the most out of social media:
1. Develop a Strategy
As with any other marketing endeavors, treat social media initiatives strategically. Decide which sites you’re going to use, be it Facebook®, LinkedIn®, Twitter®, or any other number of options, and then prepare a plan for each. Each social media outlet has strengths and weaknesses, and each offers unique features. Approach them in a monolithic way, and your efforts are less likely to bear fruit.
2. Dedicate a Resource
MSPs have a tendency to pile on marketing duties to someone who already has other responsibilities. The same goes for social media. But that’s an ineffective approach. If you lack the staff to engage social media properly, partner with a marketing agency to develop a plan that fits your budget and goals.
3. Link Like Crazy
Leverage your social media presence to link to your own websites, blog posts, case studies, and pass on information from your vendor partners. Whenever you make an announcement through a press release, your website, or a blog post, link it to your social media outlets. This widens your coverage, potentially placing your information in front of new sets of eyes that bring you your next profitable business deal.
4. Keep Watching
If you’re going to use social media, don’t set and forget it. You want to keep an eye on the activity on your social media pages to make sure you don’t miss an important development. Say a customer posts a complaint and others start to pile on with their own, be ready to address the issue and offer a solution. If customers don’t see a timely response, they’ll take that as a sign of a cavalier attitude, and will move on to a different provider the first chance they get.
5. Encourage Feedback
Social media is interactive, not a one-way street. Engage customers through surveys and contests, and encourage them to provide feedback. Positive comments about your services will play well with other customers. And if you respond swiftly to negative feedback as already mentioned, you can turn that in your favor as well. Listening to customers is always a good idea; social media gives you another opportunity to do it.
Leveraging social media for brand awareness, maintaining contact with customers, and improving customer services can help MSPs increase profits and improve brand loyalty. With that in mind, every MSP should have a social media strategy.
By Pedro Pereira
Pedro Pereira is a Massachusetts-based writer who has covered the IT channel for two decades. Recognized as one of the first journalists to cover managed services, Pedro continues to track, analyze and report on the IT channel and the growing MSP partner community.