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The golden rules of using social media for your business – Ladies Executive Club

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  • 21/07/2016
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Taking place hot on the heels of the UK’s EU referendum vote, attendees at the latest Ladies Executive Club meeting were certainly not short of discussion points. But talk of Brexit quickly shifted to focus on social media and the dos and don’ts of using the tool for business.

Guests

  • Claire Barrington-Jones, SVP group sales, Borro
  • Alison Beech, business relationship director, Spicerhaart
  • Melanie Bien, director, Bien Media
  • Martese Carton, senior corporate account manager, RBS
  • Esther Djikstra, director of strategic partnerships, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Karen Faulkner, mortgage services development manager, Connells
  • Marie Grundy, operations director, V Loans
  • Gemma Harle, managing director, Tenet Lime
  • Maria Harris, head of intermediary sales, Atom Bank
  • Sarah Kerrigan, speaker, Made Simple Group
  • Fiona Kitchin, marketing director, Aldermore
  • Aileen Lees, senior policy adviser, AMI
  • Andrea Rozario, chair, Bower Retirement Services
  • Louisa Sedgwick, director of sales, mortgages, Belmont Green

Brightstar Financial sponsors and hosts

  • Clare Jupp, director, people development, Brightstar Financial
  • Michelle Westley, head of marketing, Brightstar Financial
  • Paula John, editor-in-chief, AE3 Media
  • Victoria Hartley, group editor, Mortgage Solutions and Your Mortgage
  • Samantha Partington, deputy editor, Mortgage Solutions and Specialist Lending Solutions
  • Hannah Uttley, senior reporter and features editor, Mortgage Solutions
  • Oonagh Sheehan, commercial manager, Mortgage Solutions

First off, key speaker Sarah Kerrigan, social media manager at Made Simple Group, asked guests to define what social media means to them. The answers were mixed but attendees agreed with Kerrigan’s summation of the tool as a ‘digital form of expression’, with the main purpose of connecting and sharing with others.

But one guest noted that the broad remit of social media meant that swapping between using it personally and for business purposes could be confusing at times.

This steered the debate toward looking at mistakes commonly made by businesses on Twitter, and some top tips on how to avoid them.

On the no-no side, Kerriganladies exec 1 edit says social media can be treated like a nuisance child and dumped on the marketing department. Often a lack of understanding and education means that one person is left to take on a social media role, with the expectation that they report on its success and work out a return on investment (ROI), she added.

Now attendees knew what they shouldn’t be doing with social media, members asked ‘what should we be doing?’

“It should be used to reach your company’s goals and objectives,” Kerrigan said.

“All departments, from research and development to sales, should be trained on how to use social media. Twitter is fantastic for competitor research. By listening to social media trends you can analyse positive and negative sentiment in your sector.”

By handing the responsibility of social media to a sole person or department, businesses often fail to integrate the tool correctly within their strategy and business goals, Kerrigan explained.

“When an employee is expected to demonstrate the return on investment it’s very difficult for that one person to come up with a tangible ROI if there’s no real strategy in place,” she added.

“Firms sometimes have their business objectives and then their social media plan on the side and it doesn’t really fit in with what the business is trying to achieve. This makes it very tricky to measure any ROI from social media, whereas if you’re using social media to directly help you reach your business objectives it’s much more measurable.”

Attendees worried that as social media users for our business we might annoy people by pumping out the wrong message.

One of the most vital aspects of communicating with an audience on social media, is knowing who you’re speaking to, members were told.

From the veterans, who are generally more comfortable being addressed face-to-face, to generation Z, who are ‘hugely savvy’ users of social media with shorter attention spans, the rule is the same: “Different generations respond very differently to different forms of communication.”

But whatever demographic you’re targeting your business at, social media is not a place to broadcast brand messages, Kerrigan explained.

ladies exec 4 editFirms often make the mistake of bombarding their audience with marketing spiel due to a lack of training and education, she added.

“Social media works very differently to old school marketing. You can have a lot more reaction by hitting that reply button on Twitter than blasting out your corporate message. If some firms were to actually look into their analytics I can imagine that any tweets that are put out on repeat and are very salesy just don’t get the engagement and very few impressions.”

But how do you train someone on what is and isn’t appropriate to tweet? one delegate queried.

“Posting on social media is like publishing something, so if you’re not happy to publish something in the public eye then don’t post it on Twitter – you need to be that careful,” Kerrigan said.

“A huge part of being successful on social media is not putting it down to one person but having the whole company involved and thinking in the same way.”

“I’m not suggesting that you police your employees’ social media usage, but by having the guidelines and policy in place you have that to fall back on if something bad does happen.”

With so much to take in and learn on social media, the overarching message of the event was to keep things simple.

Kerrigan explained: “I like to compare social media to a telephone, because at the end of the day it is just a communication tool, but one that should be used wisely.”

Key takeaway points from the Ladies Executive Club

  • Don’t dump the responsibility of social media on one single person, get the whole company to buy in and embrace it.
  • Create a social media strategy that is aligned with your business’s goals and objectives.
  • Quality over quantity is best. Tweeting or posting endless brand messages irrelevant to your audience will only annoy them.
  • Different generations like to communicate differently. But preference can also vary according to individuals’ professions and lifestyle choices.
  • Remember – never post anything on social media that you wouldn’t be happy with appearing in a newspaper. Company guidelines can help with this.

With the warmest of thanks to our sponsors Brightstar Financial again.

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