Does social networking really matter to business centres?

Does social networking really matter to business centres?

Social media is certainly one of the buzzwords of today's business age – and rightly so. Established brands are now expected to have an active social network, whether that's on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or across the board. And business centres are no exception.

Why is social media important? There are huge potential benefits on offer by introducing your brand to the social network - not least because social media sites including Twitter, YouTube and Facebook regularly appear in the world's top ten most visited sites. It can help to raise awareness of your business centre, generate new connections, establish relationships and create new leads. And crucially, it can be an effective communication tool – whether as a form of customer service or by way of informing clients of new developments.

Most channels are “free” too. But as we all know, there is a hidden cost – namely, the price of resources. It's no longer enough to set up automatic posts or re-tweet an article once every six months. Someone needs to be updating your social media channels regularly – every day if possible – and responding to social activity.

Ian Hughes of marketing agency LHM Media recommends choosing that “someone” carefully. “Know which of your staff are best suited to social media, and encourage them to champion the business,” he says. Essentially, they need to be immersed in the business and up to speed on various aspects. “They need to understand the markets and be aware of the sales plan, as well as your latest promotions and deals,” he added.

Managing Social Media - Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn

The worst approach to social media is to join a host of social networks half-heartedly, as this only leads to mixed messages, stagnating pages and wasted time. And yet it happens all the time. So how do you avoid falling into the trap?

Firstly, draw up a clear plan of attack. Detail what you want out of your social media presence – and decide which channels make sense to your organisation. For instance, as a business centre you may not gain any benefit from Pinterest, unless you have a sideline in photography. It's much better to focus on a limited number of social channels and keep those regularly updated with fresh content, rather than spreading your brand too thinly across too many channels.

Once you're out there in the world of social media, there is a certain etiquette to be followed. Remember it's not all about you. As Ilana Bercovitz of put it, “self promotion is anti-social” - so don't be tempted to only post news about your centre. Open it out to other people and businesses – what's happening in the local community, what your clients are up to, wider business news, and so on.

Remember to reply publicly at every given opportunity, and don't be afraid to add a 'human' element – from a relationship perspective, this shows that there is a real person behind the social channel. It might well be a powerful marketing tool but after all, social media is just that – a medium based on social interaction. And the better the conversation, the better your chance of building a strong, successful social network for your business centre brand.

Which social media channels does your business centre use? Share your tips of social media success – or failure! - with us by commenting below.

Join the BCA's social networking channels on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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