Is social media used in our industry?

After I came back from Stockholm last May, where I attended the Networking Days organized by ELIA, I wanted to learn about some of the companies I’d encountered. I assumed that most of them would have a great presence in the new marketing tool that Facebook represents. However, to my surprise, only 22 out of 57 companies had a Facebook page. Of these, 12 did not have any information that could tell me if they were the translation company I was looking for, as they did not include any data on their services or address. Two did not have any information in English. Two were closed groups, so I could not become a fan of them. Thus, only six of 57 had a valid and clear presence on Facebook, and of these only four included some sort of really solid content.

This data really puzzled me. Social media and the virtual world have somewhat flattened the marketing world between big and small companies. Once upon a time, phone, post and courier boxes were the only way of getting projects from clients. Clients reaching out to you was the privilege of only a few companies with a strong, worldwide presence.

A few days after I came from Stockholm, Common Sense Advisory published “The Top 50 Language Service Providers” and I used this listing to do some similar research among them. The starting point — whether they have a page on Facebook — narrowed them to 39 out of 49. Of these, 20 had no information on the company at all, 13 had more than one page under the same or very similar names, and two were closed groups. Five had as their only information the content of their entry in Wikipedia.

So the real difference between smaller companies and the leaders of the industry is that the latter ones have understood the importance of being on Facebook but — and here is the big news for the companies with fewer resources — they are not really using it. Only three are actively offering content!

Perhaps it is too early to see if advertising on Facebook and similar pages is providing a hefty return on investment, but you need to think about it as a powerful interactive marketing tool for which you already have an audience: your clients, your vendors and your competition. All of them are your potential followers. Once you have these followers, you will face the second challenge: the content. This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself. Typically, you will be trying different approaches, sharing company or industry news and maybe even jokes — anything that you might deem appropriate. The good news is that Facebook stats are quite powerful and will give you good insight not only into the number of new and active users, but, moreover, which comments or links really catch the eye of your readers, so you can quickly adapt the way you are populating your page.

As a spin on this new way of marketing, not only are companies going into LinkedIn and now Facebook to research the background of anyone they are hiring to find the “real profile” of a candidate, looking at their interests, comments and affiliations, but the potential candidates, especially the youngest ones, will also search for your company to find out how formal or informal it is. For example, they will look at what is said about the company in the blogosphere. Forget about the official website. This type of information is primarily searched outside of it these days, and Facebook is a good place to communicate what your company can offer in terms of value.

Here are some basic marketing tips for starters:

Information in your native language alone is fine if you are only targeting your country and/or language, but otherwise, you’re missing the potential of the internet.

No closed groups, unless you want to use the page as an intranet.

Try to control the setting up of new pages. You should not have four pages with the same name. If you cannot delete the redundant ones, make sure to have the content visible to all, so your potential followers can easily identify the one they should connect to.