If You Like It, They May Not Come
A new study by MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. Catherine Tucker and Prof. Amalia Miller of the University of Virginia suggests that a company’s online social media presence is perpetuated more by employees than new customers – depending on what is posted.
The study looked at hospitals’ social media management across the country. After management and maintenance, the organization pages showed more engagement, but only from employees who hopped on to “like” or share content.
However, this may have been the case because the posts were internally, rather than client-focused. The news that appeared encouraged those connected to the facility to add their insight, rather than invited outsiders to join the conversation. Posting client-facing content did encourage other organizations to post and share content – but there was not enough of these posts to really boost conversions.
“There is nothing wrong with having a social media presence that mainly encourages internal dialogue with employees. It may motivate employees or improve communication flows. However, if that is the case, human resources – rather than marketing – should be specifically incorporated into the management and funding of social media activity,” said Tucker in the same release from the school.
In other words, if you want clients to engage with your brand, then it makes more sense to be focusing on clients’ content and issues that others would want to hear, not just what you think might be cool about your company. This can be as simple as retweeting interesting articles about your market, seeking out posts regarding hot business issues, or even asking questions about current issues to increase engagement.
On the other hand, if you would rather your employees build a strong online community, the focus can be elsewhere, posting pictures and details of company outings, looking for ways to have impromptu Google hangouts – and publicizing – or even setting up Twitter chats about internal developments you want the world to see.
Take a look at the full study here.
How do you use social media to engage your audience? Will studies like this change your strategy?
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