Have you noticed the increasing trend of Facebook and RSS icons, the famous Twitter birdie and blogs appear on corporate websites?
While there are still some that think social media is all fun and games and mainly for “kids”, technologically savvy companies are taking advantage of social media to improve their bottom lines.
This trend is more prevalent in younger companies, or companies led by young, high energy professionals who not only understand the power and potential of the Internet, but are also willing and have the ability to utilize it to their advantage.
Before I move on, I want to clarify that is not to say by any means that old (er) people don’t get it. I hope you catch my drift.
As I discussed in a previous post How CFOs Can Leverage the Internet to Generate Market Liquidity, outbound marketing is too wishy-washy. You don’t have full control over the campaign and its results, as well as the effects it leaves on your investor demographic and the market, specifically from a reputation perspective.
Outbound marketing is also very expensive for a company gathering data. Billions are spent every year on paid surveys and focus groups. Thanks to this spending craze, I have done very well with my Easy Extra Money Website, a website dedicated to paid surveys and other ways to make money from various “get paid to do” activities.
Traditional media spend is shrinking as we see newspapers dying by the day. Content is moving online and in other digital forms such as mobile media. While TV, radio and limited print are effective, they cost a full arm and half a leg. What is a small company on a tight budget to do?
Companies of all kinds and sizes can afford not to worry too much about these trends by engaging in effective inbound marketing through use of corporate blogs and social networking platforms. By engaging potential clients and customers, companies can conduct free market research while advertising at the same time as they determine what the market needs, wants and demands based on social interaction online.
Interacting with potential clients and customers within the cyber platform allows companies to keep a finger on the market pulse and measure sentiment.
In today’s world where Enterprise Risk Management is one of the hottest and recurring topics of every major business publication, many companies are using social media and blogs to shape market perception and proactively manage reputation risk.
Activities include interaction and engagement in the community, showing dedication to an initiative or cause, and addressing customer complaints and concerns publicly.
Because search engines love fresh and frequent updates to content, a collateral benefit of frequent and proactive social media engagement is that published content online overtakes potential slander from third parties in search engine search results, highlighting the company’s positives over its negatives.
Companies and its CFOs and finance departments can also use inbound marketing effectively to attract investors and improve its stock market liquidity, thereby incorporating it in their overall corporate finance strategy.
1. Content – Companies can establish themselves as having strong fundamentals, build a following, maintain relationships with existing and potential clients and customers, and create a buzz online. It’s a great way for companies to vocalize and publicize corporate strategy.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Properly optimized content that is published online will rank high on search engine search results, exposing web surfers to the company’s activities online. A company’s IT and / or e-commerce and marketing departments should be able to handle this.
3. Social Media & Viral Marketing – People like to share tips and be the center of attention when they discover a solid company that their friends might benefit from. When a company’s content gets distributed and discussed across various social media networks like Facebook or Twitter, it gets a stamp for being authentic, making it more likely to draw more potential clients and customers, replicating the process, and allowing word to spread virally.
It Costs Less – Outbound marketing involves spending a lot of money to achieve results, inbound marketing involves creating content and getting people to see it, talk about it and virally spread it. There is no startup cost in creating a corporate blog or a Twitter account, with the potential to attract tens of thousands of new investors over time.
Better Targeting – Outbound marketing involves poorly targeted techniques such as bulk email campaigns or using “hot tip” services, inbound marketing targets only people who self-qualify themselves and have expressed an interest in the company’s prospects. These people demonstrate an interest in your company and its potential growth prospects, and they may be interested in the product offering as well.
It’s an Investment, Not an Ongoing Expense – The value of IR “hot tip” stock promotion services, or email blast services gets lost soon after you pay for it. In a best case scenario situation, you must continually pay, and incur recurring expenses to get results. However, if you invest that money in quality content, that ranks in Google’s natural search results, you’ll be there until somebody displaces you.
Organically Produced Database of Potential New Clients and Customers – The results of using inbound marketing service is a large email database and social media following that will be accessible at any time. This is important because YOU own this list. With third party services, you don’t own the list they market to. As soon as you stop paying the marketing company or the contract runs out, you lose these contacts.
So I hope this brief discussion has at least gotten your wheels turning about why every company needs a corporate blog and strong social media presence. In fact it is no longer an option. Those that are not on it can consider themselves dead in the near future. With the internet growing in popularity globally, it is increasingly becoming the channel of choice.
This discussion applies to you whether you are an employee or a large or small organization, as well as whether you own your own business or are thinking about starting a side business in your spare time.
Change is definitely on the horizon. Are you and your company on the bandwagon or off? Why or why not? What are your personal thoughts on this matter.
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