Let’s face it, when you think of “social media marketing” you automagically think of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
You think of these platforms as advertising mediums whereby you use them to promote your brand, products or services with the goal in mind to create more contacts or web traffic or brand awareness.
You can tweet a blog post and hope someone, somewhere gives a monkeys about what you’ve just sent.
Hopefully someone will respond or share it.
Hopefully someone who needs your help with reply by the off chance.
As marketers, you allocate budget for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for the promotion of your products, services and brand messages.
You get all excited about Twitter backgrounds and joining LinkedIn groups.
But there’s 3 sites I think are far closer to home and could be much more useful for marketers and customer service types than Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for marketing, brand awareness and customer service (not so much networking).
Green Building Forum, Screwfix Community and DIYnot
For anyone following me on Twitter will know I wrote about these 3 sites (plus another 2) a while ago on the Pauley Creative blog and why they should be on your list of social media sites to monitor.
There is a lot more relevant chitter chatter on Green Building Forum, Screwfix Community and DIYnot than you could imagine.
They’re probably THE most recommended places to go if people in the industry want help. Before Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.
Here’s an extract from a blog about a self-renovation project:
Here’s a comment in a blog again promoting Green Building Forum:
You’ll also find a lot more of ‘other peoples content’ shared in these forums than on Twitter too.
People will find your content and then share it in these forums to help others.
After all, where do you think all this traffic comes from?
Less noise, much more relevant
These 3 sites are a completely different ball game; but do they really require a different strategy?
It’s more customer service than a channel which can be used to advertise. It requires being helpful.
It’s not like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn where you can just post ‘stuff’ and hope someone is listening and gives a shit about what you have to advertise.
DIYnot, Screwfix and Green Building Forum are much more focused. There’s less noise so to speak.
It’s a Q&A forum. You can’t just waltz in and start shouting your advertising messages at everyone. On Twitter you can though.
You have to listen and be helpful in these environments.
I spend a lot of time in these forums looking for content ideas for building product clients and monitoring brand mentions too.
There are so many diverse conversations, requests and subjects in here that it’s very difficult to find anything not related to your market.
There’s talk about legislations, standards, design, product materials, installations, supply chains, hints and tips and industry trends.
So why don’t these 3 social sites get talked about much often?
In my opinion, I don’t think these 3 sites get talked about because of 3 reasons.
1. Getting involved requires more than one department, not just marketing.
Take a look at some of the topics above. Some of them I don’t think marketing have the level of knowledge to be able to contribute to these discussions or provide the right advice.
If you have then wonderful. Get involved.
Joining the discussions requires the support of a technical team also and therefore the technical team have to be bought into the social strategy well in advance. This can be a tough process in itself.
It also requires a team who are fully aware of what content is available on the companies website(s) in order to point people to should they require it. All departments need to be inter-joined.
2. Getting involved requires good experience in customer service
Some social media profiles are controlled by agencies and some by employees who have less than a years experience in the industry or within the business. Are these the right people to response and get involved?
Being able to know when to respond is just as important as knowing what to respond with. Who is the point of contact internally and can someone speak to you directly offline?
You may have the right people to press ‘send’ but not the right people to press ‘reply’. (I made that up all by myself!)
I’ve come across many discussions where I’ve thought “Why has nobody responded to this?”. Of course, lots of answers from burying heads in the sand to what you don’ know won’t hurt you kinda thing.
3. There’s no time available to be reading through all these discussions.
Most common excuse of them all.
“We don’t have time”. Even when it comes to Twitter and Facebook. We don’t have time.
You don’t have time to protect your brand or help your audience? But it says “technical experts” on your website and it says “we care about the industry” on your corporate brochure. Pfff!
There’s a tonne of relevant, interesting discussions going on out there on these 3 forums. Less so on Twitter and that’s where you’re spending more of your time.
There are lots of tools that you can use to monitor these forums such as Google Alerts or Social Mention or even the new rt.ly (real time news and content aggregator) by bit.ly.
But there’s nothing like just spending a manual 30 minutes on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday just quickly scanning through. It’s not only valuable from a brand perspective but it’s also valuable from a learning point of view.
What are people saying? What are they recommending? Who are they recommending? This is gold duct information which you may not be able to get on Twitter or LinkedIn.
It may take some time to siphon through discussions in the first run but soon after you’ll know which discussion to avoid and which to monitor much more closely.
I think these 3 sites should be part of a companies social media strategy in so much that they need monitoring at a minimum.
Do you get involved in these 3 forums?
Are there any forums or sites you think are much closer to home and much more relevant than the mainstream social sites?