The Why and How of Social Media for MSPs
There are social media haters and those who can’t get enough of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn. No matter which camp you fall into, there’s no disputing that it has changed the face of marketing. Still, there are many MSPs who cringe when it comes to using social media for their business.
Why should you give it a second look? For starters, it can raise awareness for your company and boost your reputation as a leader in your field. Social media can bring significant exposure to your company, both locally and on a global scale, allowing you to establish a connection with individuals and other businesses that otherwise may have never come across your brand. In addition, social media can align with your other marketing channels such as PR, advertising, email and more.
Another reason to implement social media is because your customers expect it. Research has shown that more than 90% of individuals want businesses (like yours) to have a social media presence. And this fact matters now more than ever because today’s buying decisions begin online, using information gathered to establish trust. It’s where your customers, prospects and partners go to learn and listen about how you do business.
But you can’t just jump into social media blindly. All MSPs should have a marketing plan, and social media should be a part of that plan—something that you use strategically to support your business goals. Here are 10 simple steps to put it to work for your managed services practice:
1. Set your strategy: Document a clear strategy for your social media efforts, outlining trackable goals that support your overall business objective.
2. Pick the right platforms: Choose which platforms you want to be active on. For MSPs, having a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, YouTube and Twitter is recommended. If you aren’t comfortable with all, pick the ones which are right for you – consistency is better than spreading yourself too thin.
3. Pick the right “performer:” Choose a social media manager who has experience managing pages for businesses (not just in their personal time). Your social media manager must be able to write creative content that is focused on the benefits of managed services. They should be able to convey a sense of professionalism while also posting engaging content. The content should always be in keeping with your company’s or executives’ voice and tone. This role can be part time if required – just make sure you assign the responsibility to make sure it’s done.
4. Complete all profile fields: The profile fields describe who your company is and what you do. Filling in all fields is essential, and it’s often an aspect of social media that many businesses miss. Your social pages can be the first place your customers and leads visit when they have a question. Let the profile on your pages do some of the talking for you.
5. Create a calendar: What most people don’t realize is that social media is time consuming. There’s no avoiding that. A half hour to an hour of time each day should be sufficient. Set yourself up for consistency and success by creating a content calendar. There are many content calendar templates available online to get you started. Buffer, Hootsuite and other tools are simple to use and can help simplify the content planning and scheduling process. Also, it takes a team: get a group of colleagues involved to contribute to take the “burden” off of one individual. Doing so will also allow you to help these colleagues earn valuable recognition in the market while enabling your business to cast a wider net. A reliable schedule is key!
6. Be consistent with your communications: Be sure that you enforce consistency in messaging across all social platforms. Make sure your internal team understands what the approved messaging is, and that rogue behavior is not allowed on social when it comes to your brand. Demonstrate what may be considered out of bounds and what’s acceptable or encouraged for posting.
7. Follow and amplify:A lot of amplification can take place when your community—which includes business partners, distributors, other MSPs, vendors, customers and even staff—like and share your content on their own social media accounts. Make a point to follow these organizations and individuals on social media. This extra touch can fuel lead nurturing and also improve existing business relationships. Be sure to ask your staff to follow your company pages and share and like content that they enjoy.
8. Be easy to find:The saying “if you build it they will come” doesn’t ring true in business, and it doesn’t apply to social media either. People won’t necessarily seek out your social media profiles. It’s important to display the icons clearly on top of your website pages, in your branded email signatures, on marketing materials and business cards. Also, don’t be shy: mention your social media profiles verbally at workshops, webinars and events.
9. The 80/20 rule:Social media provides a platform for educating and engaging with your audience. This means that what you post should be more about them and less about you. If you talk too much about yourself, your followers may disengage. Use an 80/20 rule for your content, with 20% being about your company. The balance should be used to educate, entertain and engage your followers.
10. Switch it up: Review and refresh your strategy regularly. Your audience is always changing and growing and your strategy should do the same. Your business is always changing too, and that’s why it pays to always keep your social media manager in the know when it comes to company and product news, new customers and campaigns, and other initiatives.
Social media offers powerful marketing tools for businesses of all sizes. MSPs are no different. Don’t minimize the impact this channel can have on your success. If done right, it can bring you new prospects and customers and elevate your standing in the market.
Dave Sobel is senior director of partner community and field marketing at SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP blogs here.