We regularly hear our partners grumble about using social media, and it’s no wonder. Some managed services providers (MSPs) simply don’t have the time to support it, some might not see the ROI in it, and others just don’t quite “get” it. However, social media is an essential aspect of marketing and selling your managed services and it can act as an MSP’s differentiator.
For starters, it can raise awareness for your company and boost your reputation as a leader in your field. It can also encourage your leads to reach out, look at your website and get to know your business. So, whether you’re looking to better align social media to your sales and marketing strategy, learn how to boost your current efforts, or you’re just starting out, you can use these five tips to make your MSP much savvier in the social media sphere.
1. Start with the Bare Minimum
You want to make sure that you at least have a Twitter and LinkedIn account for your company. But why these two, specifically? Simply put, we’ve found that these platforms work best for MSPs because they are great B2B tools that don’t take a ton of effort to maintain. Twitter is the go-to platform for instant updates, distribution of content and interactions with your brand and company, and LinkedIn is a more professional platform that functions as an outpost for your company and services. You can set up these social platforms to start, and then leverage them as way to build a dialog – one that can progress along multiple touch points – and lead people down the sales and marketing funnel.
However, it’s important to remember that social media can be an ideal component of lead generation, but it can’t be the stand-alone or primary source of leads. You shouldn’t be replacing any of your existing lead generation efforts with social media, but rather use it to complement your efforts and make them more effective. That’s why you need to start and get comfortable with the bare minimum, and then branch out when you have content and bandwidth to fill and support other platforms.
2. Make Your Accounts Visible
When 90% of the buying process is happening before a client ever talks to sales, using social media profiles gives your clients insight into how you’re different from your competitors. You should make your accounts visible and easily accessible by adding social media buttons to your website, email signatures and even your business cards. Also, you can give your social accounts a verbal shout-out by mentioning them at workshops, webinars or events you attend. Doing so will give potential clients an easy way to connect with your business and scope out your offerings.
3. Content Is King
So, now that you’ve set up your accounts and made them easy for people to find, what do you post? The trick to social media is it’s all about the content. As opposed to traditional communication channels where content is pushed out to your target market or readers, social media is a matter of delivering value that pulls people in and engages them. As an MSP, you can pull potential clients in with valuable and educational content that engages and attracts. Remember that you don’t need to share everything, but take the opportunity to share your thought-leading blog, promote an asset that solves a common IT challenge, start a survey or share third-party content your followers would find interesting. Whatever it may be, the goal is to provide meaningful content that pulls people in, builds your influence and encourages clients and prospects to engage with your company.
4. Follow, Join and Engage
Another key component to social media is your network. You need to follow your clients and prospects, join local groups and communities and engage with your network and connections.
Just like you support clients when their computers aren’t working, you can use social media to show your support for their other activities, including charitable donations and local news coverage. Similarly, you can use social media to your competitive advantage by following your competitors’ followers. The people who follow your competitors are the people who will likely to be interested in the types of topics and content you’re sharing. Jump on their radar by following them, and they might even be incentivized to follow you back.
Joining local and relevant groups is a great way to promote your brand and get introduced to folks that you may not already know. Most people turn to these groups to ask questions and look for help with problems they’re having. As an MSP, you can search for small business and technology groups within your target geography and offer up answers to the questions that are being asked. Engage with these groups, share your insights and expertise, make people more aware of your services and you might just find yourself attracting more potential clients and driving new business.
5. Keep It Consistent
A common misconception about social media is that it’s extremely time-consuming. Relax! You don't have to update your social media accounts every day, but the key is consistency. You should be keeping a regular cadence, and not going dark for long periods of time so your followers know what to expect and are getting a steady stream of information.
There are plenty of tools like HootSuite, Buffer, or Tweetdeck that will let you schedule post and status updates whenever you like. Set aside an hour every week to compose and schedule tweets, then check in daily during your morning coffee to scan your feeds and see what people are talking about.
Follow these five tips and social media success will be right around the corner. While you’re at it, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @FollowContinuum!
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel