In my time working with businesses and social media quite often the two main statements I hear are:
- Im looking to promote my business/campaign for only a couple of weeks (this is often said a week or 2 beforehand)
- All I need to do is set up a Facebook page and just start posting stuff right?
For any business and particularly an MNC it is vital for them to realise as early as possible that when it comes to social media.
It’s a marathon not a sprint
Launching in such a short time and with the goal of only posting stuff up will see that campaign fail pretty quickly. As with all other things in business setting out a clear strategy is essential if you want to succeed. As they say if you fail to plan you plan to fail.
For an average business social media can be challenging enough to harness but for an MNC it is even more difficult. However when done right (as my earlier blogs have shown) social media has the potential to be a powerful tool for a business to yield to not only get their message out but also to connect and tap into their customers. Using the examples of BT and Bank of Ireland I will show how MNCs can harness social media and the best approach to take to ensure success.
Obstacles for MNCs
When it comes to social media the challeneges that MNCs face are far different from what the average business faces when starting out
How many profiles?
The average multi national has thousands working for them in a variety of departements spread across the world, this straight away creates the challenge of trying to identify your social media goals. Do you want to create a certain identity for the business and have 2-3 profiles or do you want to have multiple profiles. If you go with this second option you then have the challenge of making sure that all the profiles are on the same page. You can straight away see the challenges that an MNC can face. This is why time is needed to plan out the right course of action.
Our tip here at BlueChief would be to choose the option you think is best for your MNC. For example BT provide a wide variety of different services ranging from care to finance to tv. For them to have one social media profile would not be smart as their message would get lost trying to promote all these different channels. Instead they have distinct social media profiles for each service. The chart below shows just 4 of the profiles they have on Twitter and this doesn’t even include their sport, UK and Finance profiles they have.
The important thing is for the MNC to put in enough time in deciding on the best course of action they want to take.
BlueChief Tip: Choose the option best suited to your MNC
There have been a good few times when people have said to me the reason they are using social media is because everyone else is. This can be one of the worst explanations to give as it makes it sound like you’re simply following everyone else. It also makes it sound like there isn’t buy-in within the business. Like everything else in business for a new practice to succeed it needs people buying into it. For an MNC this falls to the managers and executives. If they show that they are active on social media then this will be an example to others in the business. Slowly yet surely others will join, as a result social media will go from that thing that the marketing department does to something that is a part of everyone’s day to day work.
At the same time it can be a double edged sword as social media can be seen to affect productivity. A random sample that I did of people who work in MNCs found that the majority weren’t allowed to use social media in the workplace. A balance must be found so that it can add to rather than take away.
BlueChief Tip: Managers and executives play a big part in social media buy in, have the right balance though
At the same time there are some opportunities open to MNCs that aren’t available for other businesses
When the average business starts out on social media they come at it from a bootstrap point of view where they want to make as much out as efficiently as possible. MNCs have the resources behind them to help make maximum use of this tool for their own as well as for the customers benefit. This use of resources includes
Another interesting thing with how MNCs use social media is the mix of content they put out. For example BT put out a mix of either content that they have created themsleves or in the case of their sports channels content that they are showing. Bank of Ireland focus on an interesting mix of information:
- RTs from profiles of teams, events and organisations that they sponsor. This helps to develop Bank of Irelands image of being an integral part of the community
- #BigBlueBox – This is a fundraising campaign where money is raised for the Saint Vincent De Paul
— Bank of Ireland (@bankofireland) June 11, 2015
What is interesting about each strategy is how they are avoiding the sell sell sell tactic that so many can often fall into. The key here is that they are looking to provide value for people.
BlueChief Tip: Don’t sell sell sell. Create your own content and share the content of partners where possible but above all add value
Connect with customers
Social media allows MNCs to connect with customers. More importantly it allows them to connect with individual customers in real time. It is a terrific tool to answer any queries a customer has. The resources an MNC has can help it has very often they can have people whose sole role is to deal with any queries that customers may have. The @BTCare profile is a great example of interacting with a customers concerns and resolving issues in a timely manner. Time is essential as customers expect a response in as short a time as possible. This is why having someone dedicated to this task is important.
At the same time there have been times when MNCs have made the news because of their social media efforts for all the wrong reasons.
What Networks should an MNC use?
As with any other business the simplest answer to this is, be on the networks that your customers are on. You want to be in front of where your audience is because you want to make max use of the time, money and human resources available to you. BTs main social networks are Twitter and LinkedIn. The first two cover customers and LinkedIn focuses on the business side and CSR part.
This would be in comparison to say Nordstrom whose focus is Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. This breaks down to the fact that their target market can be found on these networks. These two examples simply show how different social networks can be harnessed to suit not only the MNC but also their customers.
Whats the best approach for an MNC to take?
While I have highlighted the obstacles and opportunities open to MNCs as well as the networks available this doesn’t answer the question of the best approach to take. For this I will answer the two questions I asked at the start of this post
A lead time of 6 months should be given for any MNC to promote their business/campaign. The size of an MNC has a large part to play in this. The larger size business needs more time not only from a buy in point of view but also from the fact that key decisions can take longer due to the levels of management. A startup generally has only one or at the most two levels to go through whether as an MNC has multiple more levels to account for.
Time is needed to select the right channels to use. Research is required to find what social media networks customers use. Once this is done a strategy has to be then created about
How many profiles should be created and what is their purpose?
- Should it be split into the various departments or should you focus on just one or two key profiles?
- What kind of content you want to put up? Should it all be organic content like BT do or a mix of your own as well as partners content like Bank of Ireland do.
- Should social media be used for customer service? Do you set up a profile whose sole purpose is to answer any queries customers may have?
As you can see a lot of questions have to be answered before the profiles get up and running. By giving yourself enough lead time you can answer these and make sure you hit the ground running with your social media profiles.
The Importance of doing Social Media right for an MNC
Whether you’re a small corner shop or a large multi-national who employs thousands social media is a tool that can be used to your benefit. By giving yourself enough time to plan what networks your going to use and how you’re going to use them you can make it a powerful tool in your arsenal in not only attracting new customers but also retaining existing one through excellent interaction and customer service. Always remember in your planning and when using social media
Its a marathon not a sprint
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