Is your social media strategy up to par?

If it’s not, your bottom line and reputation could be suffering, experts tell a CSAA audience
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp.

If your alarm company isn’t familiar with these big hitters in social media, eventually it will be—whether you like it or not. The key is to embrace the tools that otherwise could be used against you, or at the very least used by your competition to profit at your expense.

That was one of the messages delivered by the Central Station Alarm Association during a Feb. 6 webinar, “Is Your Social Media Strategy Up to Par?” Michael Kremer, marketing manager at Intertek, and Teresa Brewer, director of sales for the Strategic Initiatives Group at Honeywell/System Sensor, led the forum and outlined ways to use social media to your advantage.

Kremer told the online audience that “it’s not social media for us [at Intertek], it’s social business.” He said companies can use social media websites to acquire new customers, get referrals and increase referrals, increase market exposure and even boost attendance at events.

“At the end of the day, we’re all people,” he said. “Nothing will replace the face-to-face meeting, but social media and social business bring us closer to the customer.”

The key to making it work is what Kremer called “Social Media 101”: Plan for it, incorporate it into the marketing blueprint, find and dedicate resources to make it work, and then stay on top of it.

“You just can’t let it sit,” he said. “Make it relevant. If you’re not relevant, you’re irrelevant. Make it social. … This is not a formula. Every company and plan is unique.”

Kremer said the best approach is to find someone at your company who is a “dedicated owner” of the process, someone who is “capable, available, integrated” and not afraid to talk to customers.

“Customers expect a response. If you don’t respond, you will have unhappy customers,” he said, citing the need to communicate on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp when people voice their displeasure on those sites. “Studies show that companies that respond have more respect in the marketplace.”

For those who are apprehensive about creating a social media strategy, Brewer suggested starting slowly to become comfortable with it, then moving on to “work out the kinks.” She said the impact of social media is difficult to measure, but companies can track online activity to determine if they are getting the response they want.

While Twitter and Facebook get most of the attention when it comes to social media, Brewer called LinkedIn one of the most underutilized tools.

“I think there’s a perception that it’s just a way to look for jobs or people, but it’s a great way to keep an eye on your competition,” she said. “Monitor who’s hiring. Join various groups to stay informed and become a better consultant for your clients. It’s not just for job seekers and recruiters.”

Kremer said companies that are worried about getting involved in social media should be more worried about what will happen if they don’t.

“Good, bad or indifferent, people are going to know what’s going on,” he said. He then cited the example of a rogue employee who sounds off about a company on Yelp. “If you don’t address that, you’re being affected by social media in a way you don’t want.”