By: Frances Sherlock, Proposal and Social Media Coordinator
Like many small government contractors, VectorCSP has struggled to create a presence on social media. We had LinkedIn and Twitter profiles that we occasionally posted on. But there was no rhyme or reason to the posts – they happened when someone randomly remembered to post something. Was this bad? No. We had to push social media to the back burner while we focused on capture efforts and proposal bids. But that obviously didn’t help our social presence. An effective social media strategy requires consistently engaging, interacting, and posting in order to build a positive presence. It wasn’t until we expanded our Business Development team that we finally had time to focus on social media, and as a result our social media presence has consistently increased.
Why Social Media?
You may be asking as a small Federal services contractor, why do we need to be on social media? Consider this – YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google; most people get their news from Facebook and/or Twitter; and a little less than half of social media traffic to company websites comes from LinkedIn. The world, including your current/future employees and current/future customers, is on social media and you should be as well. While VectorCSP doesn’t rely on social media to bring in new customers or make sales, we do rely on it to share our expertise, company news, and photos and videos from events. This is why having a specific strategy is key to helping you decide and manage the company’s best use of social media.
Taking Account and Setting Strategy
A few months into ramping up our social media presence, we realized that we needed to sit down and strategize about our social media accounts. Here are the questions we asked and discussed:
What accounts did we currently have, and why did we have them?
What accounts did we want to create in the near future?
Who is the audience for each account?
What’s the intent for each account?
What content will we post on each account? And, how often?
What are some Key Performance Indicators for each account? How will we know if our social media efforts are worth it?
After we answered all of those questions, it became much easier to increase our social media presence because we finally understood the role social media plays for our company. The best thing that came out of those meetings was determining who our audience was for each platform, which helped to give each platform a purpose. After deciding who our intended audience was for each platform, the rest of the social media strategy fell into place relatively easily. We know that for VectorCSP, social media isn’t about following trending hashtags or going viral. For us, it’s about producing content/communication that our employees, customers, and teaming partners want to engage with.
Social Media in Government Markets
Keep in mind that in our world of work, it is particularly important to remember who our customer is. Unlike other brands on social media who mostly cater to the general public, our customer is the U.S. Government. And in the world of government contracting and social media, we not only have to protect our own brand, employees, and trade secrets; we need to protect the Government’s as well. Here, it is better to be safe than sorry. Always check with your particular customer before posting on social media in case there is something they don’t want out there on the web. This not only protects yourself, it helps maintain a good relationship between you and your customer.
You Can Do It
Social media is a beast that can be tough to tackle when there are constantly competing priorities. But in today’s world, a positive social media presence is critical. As a government contracting company, you need to remember that the trends may not suit your needs. You do not have to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and have a blog too. Focus on the few accounts that your employees and customers care about, and take the time and resources necessary to build them and make them work for you.
We’d love to hear about your social media successes and challenges! Feel free to reach out directly to VectorCSP’s Social Media Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) to talk shop.