Better Business by Robb Hicken: Shrewd use of social media can enhance company's brand

ROBB HICKEN, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionMay 14, 2013 

Robb Hicken

Ah ... the weekend. Time to relax, mow the lawn or do something crazy. That's where the warning comes from Rod Puzey, chief operating officer for Zenware, a business technology company in Boise.

"I tell my guys, 'If you're going to do something wild this weekend, at least wear our competitor's T-shirt,'" he says.

Social media - YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al - continue to be the places "wild" weekends are posted. They also continue to concern owners, managers and corporate officers who must manage the company's brand.

"It's a place where you can learn all about a person - good or bad," Puzey says.

As Mark Ragan of Ragan Communications recently told a Boise workshop of 40-plus content media managers, social media shouldn't be feared but embraced for their ability to distribute news about your business.

Corporations need to become obsessed with showing newsworthy items on all channels, using various formats, while maintaining journalistic excellence.

He offered five tips any business can implement to create a strong content marketing platform and drive online visits and conversations:

• Stop obsessing about channels. You don't need a Facebook strategy. You need a content strategy. Brands need to focus on developing or curating great content before they focus on the channels they will use to distribute that content. If the content isn't strong, the social network strategies will fall apart. Find your brand voice, decide what unique opinion or point of view you have to offer, and then develop creative ways to share.

• You need great metrics to have great editorial. Knowing which stories are most popular will help define your editorial approach. When a story pulls in lots of traffic, you can repurpose it to create quizzes, contests, white papers, videos and follow-up articles that capitalize on its success.

• Email is still key. Send emails to your fans and those people whom you watch. Most of the traffic to their sites still comes from these emails. Use threads - daily emails - even if you're just sharing one story, in order to stay top-of-mind with your audiences.

• Headlines! Teasers! Ragan believes the greatest copy is scannable copy - and for good reason. Write with lists - like the one you're reading now. Make sure your headlines and teasers are engaging, yet straightforward. They should describe the benefits of the story. Opt for useful over clever.

• Never bore people. This may seem obvious, but it's important to remember that whether you're writing about the Academy Awards or changing the oil in a car, you need to make it interesting and appealing to your audiences. Cut the jargon. Get to the point. And add a funny picture.

If a company uses these steps, it can ease the worry of what wild weekend attire its employees are wearing - even if it has the company logo.

You can't always control what your staff is going to do, but you can tell their story in a lively, believable way to make people care about your business.

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rhicken@boise.bbb.org,947-2115

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