Q: I’m not very active on social media, but I’ve noticed that a few of my competitors are using it to promote their business. I understand how social media works, but I’m just not sure how to use it to get recognized by small business customers. What are the most useful social media channels for my MSP business? How can I use social media to interact with potential and current customers?
Social media marketing can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Essentially, you get out of it what you put in. While social media isn’t for everyone, it sounds like you’re ready to embark on the social media journey. So, if you want to see results (engagement from prospects and customers), you’ll need to prioritize social media as part of your marketing efforts and dedicate the resources needed to make it successful.
Social media marketing offers a variety of benefits. It can generate buzz for your MSP business, promote your content (think web assets and events), and open a new channel for communicating with your customers. As you get started, though, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to establish a presence on every social platform out there. Instead, start by focusing your efforts on one social network.
Choose one social network and do it well
The first thing to do is find out what social network your customers and small business prospects are most active on. Remember, the goal of using social media for your business is to connect your prospects to your MSP brand (and ultimately get them to buy your services). If you’re unsure where to start, we recommend looking into LinkedIn. In fact, Hubspot has said that LinkedIn provides a smooth transition into social media for many B2B organizations.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is intended for use by businesses and professionals, so you’ll want to share updates that resonate with a business crowd. Cater to this audience by using language that will make sense to your small business prospects and discussing topics they’ll be interested in. For example, share articles that talk about the biggest challenges facing those types of small businesses in terms they’ll understand, not more technical articles that are aimed at IT experts like you.
How to get started using LinkedIn for your MSP business
If you’re going to start out using LinkedIn, we recommend following these three guidelines:
1. Set goals for engagement
The goal for your LinkedIn posts should be to drive engagement. This means having your customers engage with the content you share, whether they click through to read your article, share that article with their connections, or start a conversation by commenting on a post. All of these actions are positive because not only will they associate your brand with an informative thought piece, but the prospects connections (and potential other small businesses) might also see the update in their feed.
The more interactions you get from your customers and prospects, the better the outcome for your business. According to a SearchEngine Journal article, 45 percent of B2B marketers have gained a customer through LinkedIn.
Make a plan and track your progress over time. Start measuring a few key metrics, and set goals from the beginning. We recommend looking at the number of impressions, clicks, interactions, and followers acquired. These numbers are easily accessible in the Analytics tab of your LinkedIn business page.
2. Share useful information
Now that you’ve determined what you want to get out of using social media, you’ll need a plan for what to share. Because LinkedIn is used by professionals, we recommend sharing information that is related to your small business customers’ pain points, challenges, and news in their industries.
It’s also useful to share company updates that your customers and prospects would be interested in knowing. It’s important to diversify your posts, though. This means that you shouldn’t only share content from your own site. Change it up by sharing articles from external sources that are related to your customers’ interests and concerns. This could be educational content or articles from trade magazines, for example. This will help you make sure there’s a good balance of information related to your own business and other topics. When possible, introduce photos or videos into your posts because they can increase engagement.
Once you begin sharing content, keep an eye on the frequency of your posts. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience and risk being “unfollowed.” A useful rule of thumb for LinkedIn is to post two to three times throughout the day. It’s important to maintain a standard frequency because your readers will begin to expect posts around these times. Start off posting something in the morning when your readers are catching up on email, again in the afternoon when they’re on their smart phone during lunch, and then once more in the late afternoon or evening when they’re likely to be skimming social media.
3. Join relevant LinkedIn groups
Once you get a regular cadence of posting to your LinkedIn page, look for LinkedIn groups to join. According to LinkedIn, groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry to share content, find answers, post jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts. By joining MSP-specific groups, you will be able to share best practices, learn from your peers, and stay up to date on MSP-related news.
We recommend following the MSPAlliance Group, CompTIA’s Managed Service Providers Community, and Kaseya’s Managed Service Provider (MSP) Best Practices.
In addition to MSP groups, you should also join groups where your small business prospects are likely to be engaged. Once you’ve joined, be aware of LinkedIn group etiquette. Group members generally frown upon users who share self-promotional content. Instead, members of these groups are looking for newcomers to contribute to conversations, help answer questions, and provide expert knowledge. By following, commenting, and sharing information in these groups, you will capture the attention of small business prospects and pick up ideas from other MSPs.
Follow these steps to get started with social media marketing, and then test other factors like the length of your posts, the time at which you post, and the frequency of your posts. Find what cadence works for your business, and share a variety of content to find out what topics resonate well with your audience.
Social media is constantly changing, so stay up to date on what’s new and adapt your strategy from there. Make it a priority to check your LinkedIn notifications and respond to your customers and prospects in a timely manner. Don’t stress, though. Once you get the hang of it, social media is simple, and can be managed by dedicating a small amount of time each day.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.
Photo Credit: Gavin Llewellyn on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.