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Using Social Media Effectively: What We Can Learn From High Growth Firms

Many companies have a handful of social media profiles that they manage, on a frequent or infrequent basis.

But is this enough?

What are the best practices for using social media effectively?

To answer this question, it’s helpful to look at our recent research into high growth firms.

High growth firms and social media usage

At Hinge, we noticed that certain firms were outpacing the competition, and we conducted research to figure out why. For our study, we defined these high growth firms as firms that have a compound growth rate of 20% or more per year.

During our research, it became clear that high growth firms were leveraging a variety of online marketing tools that average growth firms were not. Surprisingly, social media played a bigger role in these high growth firms than we had anticipated. In fact, out of all possible online marketing tools, high growth firms ranked LinkedIn and Twitter as their third and fourth most important tools, with Facebook close behind in the seventh position.

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The evidence supported a new truth: using social media effectively can accelerate growth. But “effectively” is the key word. It’s not enough to casually or haphazardly monitor your social media channels. In fact, negligent management of a social media channel can be worse than not being on a channel at all—your firm makes a bad impression if your consumers find a profile that hasn’t been updated in months.

Based on our work with high growth firms, we came up with four best practices to ensure that you are using social media effectively:

1. Continuous Monitoring

One of social media’s main objectives is to start conversations and build relationships with fellow industry peers and social media gurus. You’ll need to continuously monitor your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles to see if comments are being made or questions are being asked. Reciprocity and promptness are key!

2. Pick a channel champion

To make sure that your channels are being monitored, choose one person on your team to focus on a particular channel. This will lead to fewer redundancies in posts and a more consistent tone, and will prevent your team from becoming overwhelmed.

3. The 80/20 Rule

Social media has its own reciprocal culture, and being perceived as highly self-promotional is a turn-off. So whether you’re tweeting on Twitter, sharing blog posts on LinkedIn, or posting to Google+, you’ll want to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your posts, tweets, or re-tweets should be dedicated to sharing other people’s content or industry-related news, and only 20% should be related to the work of you or your firm.

4. Turning tasks into schedules

It’s easy for your day-to-day work to take over and throw your social media strategy off-track. Creating a social media calendar with actionable items, and assigning each item to staff members, ensures that the work will actually be completed. Make sure to give your staff enough time—somewhere between two to three hours per channel, per week—so that they can feel accomplished and you can start seeing results.

To give you an idea of what a social media calendar could look like, we’ve created a sample calendar. The fictitious firm in our calendar is posting two blogs per week and producing stock content and webinars once a quarter.

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The results are in

Evidence shows that social media is becoming an increasingly important way to share content, expand reputation, and build SEO. But the days of once-a-month posting are over. Firms that are using social media effectively—by committing team members, scheduling time, and building out a content calendar—will be the ones that launch themselves into high growth.

About the Author:

Sylvia Montgomery is a Senior Partner at Hinge, where she leads the A/E/C practice and provides strategic counsel to national clients. She is a co-author of Online Marketing for Professional Services.

You can find Sylvia on Twitter @BrandStrong and Google+

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