Encouraging dialogue, using audiovisuals and involving others are some of the keys to optimizing use of 2.0 tools
The How Companies Are Seizing the Dialogic Opportunities Provided by Social Media to Communicate with their External Audiences study produced by the UOC recently shows how the IBEX 35 companies and some 20 Fortune 500 companies are failing to interact with their customers via social media. The reason is that these companies only use these networks as one-way channels for communication with the aim of broadcasting information.
The study produced by Cristina Aced, professor in the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences, shows that only 3 in 10 IBEX 35 companies and 2 in 10 Fortune 500 companies have a high or very high level of dialogue on social media.
Faced with this situation, the study suggests a number of practices to improve relations and interaction between organizations and their audiences:
- Adapt content to each social network. According to Aced, this is the way to make the most of the potential to interact offered by each tool. "It's important to avoid duplicating the same content on different social networks," she said.
- Schedule postings. The study showed that afternoons, between 1 pm and 8 pm, were the times when companies preferred to post or update content. "Posting things after different intervals of time can increase their reach if you take into account the logarithms that Facebook and Twitter apply to people's timelines," she said.
- Use multimedia. According to the study, audiovisuals increase the number of reactions on Facebook. "Using infographics or podcasts, which is still rare, can help companies stand out from the crowd on social media – they help attract users' attention."
- Promote dialogue. It's a good idea to use things like mentions to start conversations with internet users about a specific subject. If internet users end up commenting or conversing, Aced points out that "it's important to respond to them as quickly as possible".
- Share interesting topics. Companies, as well as publishing their own information, should also share information of general interest in their field or sector. "Including external links in posts gets a positive response because it adds value," she said.
- Avoid impersonal content and advertising. The content promoted should be conversational and avoid things that look like they might be trying to make money. "If the audience sees the information as being useful, the levels of interaction will increase," Aced said.
- Talk to others. As well as sharing corporate information or details about products and services offered by the company, other people from the sector should also be given a voice. According to Aced, a good practice is to retweet interesting information from other accounts or share external links.
- Make it easier to access content. As far as possible, companies should use the categories and tags available on each platform so that users can find what they're looking for more easily. Likewise, in the case of blogs, it's important to include a search tool.
- Personalize the accounts. Companies' social media accounts need to have similar profile pictures and use the same main colours, which is what differentiates them from the competition.
- Identify the person in charge of the accounts. Naming the person posting increases the companies' level of transparency and honesty, and creates closer links with the audience. This means that it's a good idea to have a byline for blog posts and to make the name of the organization's community manager known.
In conclusion, Aced underlined how identifying best practices can help PR professionals make better use of the web, and spot opportunities missed or areas for improvement.