Name: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D.
Title: Managing Partner
Firm City & State: Reston, Virginia
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter Handle/LinkedIn Profile: @HingeMarketing / https://www.linkedin.com/in/leefrederiksen
What is your stance on commenting or engaging in discussions on social media platforms – either through your own post or on other discussion threads?
I don’t need to tell you how big social media is. If you look at the growth of the internet, social media is right there alongside it. One in five people in the world are on some form of social media, so it’s clear that commenting and engaging in discussions on social media platforms is important for companies and brands. Here at Hinge, we encourage active discussions with people on social media, whether it is on our own threads or other discussions. By participating, we try to make sure that our discussions and comments answer a question, provide expert insight, or otherwise add some sort of value to the audience.
What do you think are the disadvantages and benefits of engaging with clients and prospects via social media?
- The things we need to be cautious of on social media are no different from the things you need to be cautious of when talking to a potential business lead. You want to be clear, concise, and helpful. Long-winded answers or backing down from tough questions about your offerings will be perceived in the same negative manner as in person. In fact, it may come off even worse in text form on social media networks. Obviously, the next thing on social media to be aware of is being overly promotional. One of the worst things you can do is overlook a valid question asked on social media and push your paid services without attempting to truly engage.
- Another potential caution is that many professional firms have confidentially agreements with their clients that restrain their ability to engage on social media. This is something that each firm has to look at to see what is appropriate. There also might be legal issues, especially when dealing with financial, accounting, and security data.
- Lastly, one of the whispered about cautions I hear from professional services firms is that they secretly do not want their employees to show their expertise on social media. Why? Because they do not want their employees to be poached or headhunted by other firms looking to hire. This is especially true on LinkedIn.
- The benefits of social media engagement are substantial. The communication and interaction you receive from your clients and prospects is invaluable. You can think of it as free, unbounded target audience research. Social media is another tool you can use to evaluate your content. You can measure engagement from different kinds of content and see what appeals to your audience.
- Next, you can gain web-traffic and SEO benefits. Social media referral traffic accounts for nearly a third of overall traffic. In fact, in our annual High-Growth Study, we found that high-growth firms were more than two times more likely to have a formal employee engagement program than other firms. This speaks to the true power of employee advocacy to drive new business.
- Another benefit is the type of traffic you receive. The traffic gained from social media is quality traffic because these people have shown they are willing to engage and are already interested in your services or content; that’s why they clicked.
In your personal experience, are you more likely to engage with content on social media if there is an active discussion taking place surrounding a post?
Personally, I like to be the one who starts a discussion. However, it is true that the more activity going on in a post, the more likely others will jump in to add their perspectives, opinions, and viewpoints. It’s a natural tendency of humans to want to see what all the discussion is about and, if possible, add something of value to the discussion.
Do you have any advice for sparking conversations on a piece of your own social media content?
On social media, you would not want to add a comment on your own post unless you are replying to someone else’s comment. Personally, I’ve found that providing a question that is easily answered is a good way to drive engagement. This could be a simple opinion question or asking about favorite practices. A question that does not require too much thought and that is not embarrassing to answer is best. Another good way to start a discussion on a social media post is to have an effective headline, title, and description. Headlines should be attention grabbing and thought provoking. A great headline will convince people to read your copy and comment on the discussion. Many copywriters follow the ‘four u’s’ of headlines:
What advice do you have for finding content to add comments to? How do you source the locations where our clients and prospects are engaging in discussions?
- The best place to find content to comment on is the social media networks themselves. You want to follow and subscribe to all industry related news and leading companies that provide information you are interested in commenting on.
- To save time, you can aggregate your favorite content. This can be accomplished through adding an RSS feed to your email, or even better, using tools like Feedly, Flipboard, or Google Reader. These tools aggregate all the best content from your favorite sites. You will start to notice some of the best recurring content comes from thought-leaders and other influencers. Many times, these people are published across various publications. For that reason, it’s important to follow influencers just as much as leading industry companies. You can follow individuals on all networks but Twitter and LinkedIn is where you will mainly find the best influencer content.
- LinkedIn Groups are another great way to join engaging discussions; they are more targeted than ever now that LinkedIn has made all the groups moderated and ‘Ask to Join’ groups.
Which social media platforms do you think are best for commenting?
Our research consistently shows that LinkedIn is the place where most of the B2B action is happening. More than 94 percent of B2B businesses use LinkedIn. That said, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have all added new features geared towards providing businesses better tools that are centered around advertising and promotions. Studying the best performing professional services firms, we have found that LinkedIn accounts for more than 70 percent of all social network referrals. That said, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the LinkedIn basket. The best way for you to know what works is to test each network and see what gives you the best results for your business and your audience.