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Good Reasons To Be Chirpy About Twitter

Leo Aspden on getting the most out of the social media

THERE is no doubt that social media is redefining the way we communicate, educate, inform and network not only on a personal scale but also for businesses.

The Social Benchmarking Report issued by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) claims that 71% of businesses are using Twitter, 56% Facebook, 53% LinkeIn and 41% You Tube.

The survey involved 1,295 marketers across a cross section of B2B, B2C and B2B2C businesses, with 36% heads of department or higher, 38% managers and 26% practitioners. research-surveys/smb-wave-one

Guide to social media optimisation: The first thing to say as a guide to social media or to those seeking to maximise social media optimisation is to break down the barriers and any pre conceived ideas you may hold.
Whatever you think, social media is here and as the CIM’s Social Benchmarking Report suggests it is clearly being used by business and is expected to continue to grow in use.

So what are the barriers so often which stand in the way of better use of social media as a business communication tool?

1 Define your strategy: Like any other part of your sales or marketing campaigns, it is absolutely key in order to achieve the best social media optimisation that you start with a clear strategy and focus of what you want to gain through social media.

The approach of simply flag waving because others or our competitors are doing it is simply not good enough.
Typical questions you should address are, who do we wish to target (reach), which social
media do they use, and how frequent should we communicate.

You need to identify specific goals and objectives. These may include, to build awareness, to generate leads, to develop leads or build a network with a specific group or industry sector, or to inform (expert opinion pieces) and engage a target group.

2 Content is key: In the world of global information we like to think we have moved on from mass communication and advertising to the world of CRM (customer relationship management) and micro communication with more relevant timely information communicated because we know our customers and markets better.

The world of social media has the power to strengthen this by improving our understanding of a wider network of potential customers and contacts. However, the danger is that all of the principles of good quality strategic marketing go out of the window in our excitement to have 1000+ contacts on LinkedIn or followers on Twitter and to simply communicate with them all, relevant or not.

Before you communicate, think long and hard about your target audience, what is of interest and what you aim to achieve. In essence, think before you Tweet!

3 The time resource: One of the greatest barriers often quoted by management for a lack of or limited involvement in social media is we don’t have the time. Make no mistake, social media optimisation requires a commitment of time and resource but like any good strategy or campaign, clear objectives should enable focus and to take into account the resource needed to attain them.

Social media is open for business 24/7, yet with clear and careful planning can be managed initially for ver y specific areas, scaling up when appropriate. The message here is simple, like any worthwhile investment, it will need maintenance, nothing in – nothing out!

4 Skills and understanding: Another challenge is — do we have the skills and understanding to ensure social media optimisation? Referring back to the CIM Social Benchmarking Report only 6% of business claimed that their skills and competencies are at an optimal level.

Also there appears to be a lack of understanding of the value of social media amongst senior management. Of those surveyed a staggering one in five companies admitted they were leaving social media to people who were at best under-skilled, and at worst disinterested.

One option is to look to bring in external suppor t to ensure social media optimisation, but training in this area is absolutely key as it isn’t going to go away. Encouragingly seven out of 10 of those surveyed suggesting that they are planning to increase their investment in social media, how about you?

Leo Aspden is a chartered marketer, high growth business coach and former North West ambassador for SMEs for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

T: 0161 969 4515 I M: 07709 227497


The Chartered Institute of Marketing

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