Who are you and what does your company do?
My name is Erik Eskedal and I'm the manager of Iteo Digital. Iteo started as a traditional PR and Communications agency, mostly in the Tech and IT industry. Over the years we noticed publishers were diminishing, in 2013 we lost nearly 50% of all Tech publishers in Norway. We realized the need to add more value and found ways to help customers create their own channels, to gather information and communicate with their clients. We provide everything within marketing communications, from strategy to creatives, including writing, digital communications, social media, crisis communication and building websites.
How and why did you get started in social media?
I feel in Marketing most companies forget about the C and R in CRM. Too many companies use CRM systems to manage contact information and forget to build relationships with their customers. Social media picked up when Facebook was introduced and lead the way for other social media sites such as Twitter. Being one of the first half million users of LinkedIn, I saw from the beginning how it was a new way for companies to reach out to customers.
What do you believe are the benefits of using social media for business?
The biggest benefit is having a channel that companies can use to talk to customers. Iteo works mostly with B2B companies and often we find that they are not focused on who influences the decisions and that that happens online. They should seize opportunities to turn influencers into their brand ambassadors. Buyers have different ideas and expectations and often the end users of the product do not necessarily have the same needs as the decision maker. Through digital channels you can reach all of them and fulfil their needs.
On social media you can talk to everybody, especially your customers and those close to them. It's a medium that goes beyond normal business contact points (where you have a marketer or a salesperson initiating communication, followed by financial discussions and then signing the contract) where you are able to talk to the customer throughout the journey.
What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?
In my experience there are 2 things most people do wrong 1) they don’t tell their customers about the available channels for contact, 2) they focus on broadcasting their messages rather than listen to conversations happening.
I think opening up a social media channel can be compared to getting a new phone number, you have to make sure there is someone at the other end of the line.
The common mistake is posting a message on Facebook or Twitter each time you have something to say, without listening to the responses. It's important to monitor the rest of your social media sites to find out if anyone is talking about the product. Many businesses fail to implement strategies in their online activities.
What qualities do you think social media managers should have?
First of all they need to be good communicators, they need to be able to talk about their product or service in depth without being too technical. The human aspect of the digital channel is valuable. Social media managers should be able to talk in the same tone as their customers and stay open to new things that will best suit the users over the company.
How do business owners know if their social media campaign is working?
Many social media managers should have that question in the back of their minds. Managers will often ask what they are getting out of certain campaigns. Most companies take actions without having a clear goal of what they want to achieve, whether it's in terms of advertising or social media. To find out if a campaign is working, we need to have a stable mission for that channel- what do we want to achieve? It could be gaining more customers or achieving a better sentiment about ourselves. Once you figure out where you are and where you want to go, you can start measuring how close you are getting to your clearly set goals.
How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years …what do you hope to see?
I hope we can see the end of E-mail! I think there will be more niche networks that are fragmented and visual. It’s always interesting to see social media channels release new features such as Snapshat, Instagram, Vine… We need to learn quick and easy ways to set a message for the relevant audience to see it in the right time. I hope (I have no idea how) that we can clean up the noise and help companies sound stronger online.
If you could share one best practice about using social media to grow a business, what would it be?
Find out who your customers are- if and how they want to talk to you. Also, decide which is your optimal channel, it might still be E-mail!