Last month, a few UGI Energy Services, LLC. employees attended a seminar titled “Using Social Media to Grow Your Business” in Eatontown, NJ. The educational experience was hosted by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association in the Sheraton conference hall.
Our own Cheryl Fuhs, director of commercial sales and marketing, and Kaitlin Killian, marketing coordinator, reported back to us on how UGI Energy Services (and other companies) can grow through use of social media–including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogging. Erin Klebaur (from Creative Marketing Alliance, Inc.) mediated the event for a wide variety of guest speakers in the interactive online field. These speakers gave plenty of insight into various aspects of social media, and how it can be integrated into the business place.
Continue reading to learn more of what Cheryl and Kaitlin learned from each of the four presenters!
Using Twitter for Business Growth
First to take the podium was Tony Popowski, from Grass Roots Marketing, Inc., who focused on Twitter, blogging, and LinkedIn. One of his many pieces of advice was that businesses should not use Twitter in such a way that followers receive “hallway panic” from the business. This hallway panic refers to when two people are alone in a long hallway and encounter that awkward moment where they don’t know when to say “hello,” what they should do after they say “hello,” or whether they should keep their head down until just passing and then wave. Many of us have been there, but online it is all documented in news feeds and internet archives.
So how does “hallway panic” relate to social media? Businesses utilizing social media should be approachable to their followers—when you tweet, it is important to produce content that followers look forward to rather than avoid within their Twitter feed (much like averting their eyes in a long hallway). Tony tells businesses to “follow prospects and clients, retweet their material, tweet at followers, don’t be sales-y, use hashtags (#), and access what’s trending.” Most important lesson for your company’s tweets? Give your followers the content that they want and will respond to.
Using Facebook for Business Growth
Transitioning to two other popular social media platforms, Facebook and YouTube, Jim Mahlmann from NetCetra LLC was next. Jim shocked us with that fact that in June 2013, smart phones outsold PCs for the first time in history. While building an online community at first can prove difficult, Jim shared that once your company or organization gains a large following on Facebook, interaction and engagement happens all on its own.
If the discussions you start or questions you ask are desirable to your Facebook community – it will lead to natural commenting and a continued conversation. Engagement and conversations are the ultimate goal on social media channels, so if this can be done naturally through your established web presence and expansive following, it’s win-win!
Social Media and the News
Social media has been a hot topic for over the last five years— and over time the insight as to what content to post for your followers has only grown. Kaitlin Friedmann, also from Creative Marketing Alliance, Inc., shared that while your company or organization may focus its efforts on core business proceedings as usual and may not think they have time to use social media, there is always something useful that your profiles can share.
To her, everything your company posts on social media should be done in a useful manner—“Be a resource, create a curate,” Kaitlin instructed. What this means is that even though you may not have painted the picture, you can still know a lot about it and share your knowledge with your visitors (just as a museum curator would). As a business leader, you and your employees already know a great deal about your industry, and so providing this knowledge through posts of links, photos, and commentary to your social media community establishes you as an authority within that industry. It is important to not only be authoritative, but entertaining as well. As seen by many of the recent viral campaigns, people like to be entertained. Businesses should try to be funny and witty (when appropriate) within their social media profiles.
Legal Pitfalls in Social Media and Branding
While Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., may not work for a social media marketing company, she is no stranger to social media when it comes to the law. A lawyer at Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster, Addison reviewed various law cases in which employees have gone against their company’s social media policies and the legal repercussions that followed. It was very useful to have a review of how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates social media and advertising—and how businesses can avoid fines for misuse. As a standard, your business should create a social media code of conduct so that employees and social media managers clearly understand what is expected of them online when it comes to both their personal accounts and the company’s profiles.
While UGI EnergyLink already has a presence in the blogging world, we learned a lot of tips and insight that we had not been familiar with! If you’d like to learn more about social media and business growth from what we’ve learned, contact us today!