Whether used to describe the company and its activities or to produce specialist articles, text is the primary resource of online marketing.
Internet users can be attracted or engaged by a video, but text is irreplaceable for conveying basic information, developing a pitch or demonstrating a company’s level of expertise. Written communication is involved at all levels, on social networks and the company’s main website.
On social networks
Written information on the company's main website, factual and general, is designed to last. Conversely, social networks are used to communicate more spontaneously, as news and user demand develop. An active and relevant presence on social networks should demonstrate the company’s responsiveness and availability. The company must comply with competition rules, agree to become a topic of conversation and be open to the inevitable criticism that will definitely be leveled against it. This requires transparency and humility on the part of the company, which must prove that it is listening to its customers and the concerns of the public in general. A few recommendations:
- Present your company. Your company’s account, whichever platform you use, should contain all the information necessary for the public to identify you and get to know you.
- Be responsive. This is the key to any online communication. If you have managed to attract the public to your profile, you will have to try and keep this traffic and build on it. Respond as promptly as possible to comments, both positive and negative. Social networks are a unique opportunity to enter into a dialog with potential customers or partners. Listen to their needs, demonstrate that your company is concerned about getting things right and that you are close to your audience.
- Expand your network. Take advantage of your online presence to get yourself known by experts in your area of business. Identify well-known members of your network and influential bloggers and try to win their trust so that they will pass on positive information about you.
- Create an element of surprise. Offer relevant written content generating an element of surprise or demonstrating your expertise. Take part in specialist discussions and submit your responses.
On the main website
A company's main website absolutely must include textual information about the company, its history, its philosophy and its activities. Organized fluently and in a user-friendly manner, the information should answer the following questions:
- Who are you? Present your company and its activities. Tell your story, where you come from and where you are going. A company is, by definition, seen as an anonymous entity. You can also ask your employees to describe themselves in a few words. This brings you closer to your visitors and helps humanize your company in the eyes of the public.
- What do you do? You would not be making all this effort in marketing if you had nothing to sell. Your whole strategy is aimed at increasing your sales volume, and the public wants to know what you have to offer. Allow for a section on your website where you present your activities or products concisely and in detail.
- What can you do that others cannot? Show what makes you stand out from the competition and why customers trust you. For example, you can ask customers or partners to provide testimonials about your reliability and professionalism.
Successful communication creates a strong emotional link between the company and the public. Storytelling, a method of communication using narrative processes rather than simple descriptions, can be a good way of getting closer to the company's audience.
Generally, the main website is there to present the company and its activities and the tone used should be descriptive and factual. This means demonstrating your skills and qualities with actions, while text serves to highlight the company’s specific achievements. Boastful and arrogant communication is rarely taken seriously and may well cause the public to turn away. The general tone adopted on the website and the way in which information is presented should also correspond to the culture in the line of business in which you operate. A company operating in the luxury watch business that uses an informal form of address with its audience or an intentionally relaxed graphic line and tone might miss its target altogether and lose its credibility.
The blog is a very effective online communication tool. It presents information from the most recent to the oldest (latest articles are shown first). The blog is a kind of diary; it was initially aimed more at individuals than companies. There are many different platforms which can be personalized to a large extent and sometimes involve payment. A blog makes it possible to share all forms of multimedia content, from text to sound to videos.
Articles posted are usually classified by category (tags) and give visitors the option of leaving comments. A successful blog increases the company's visibility on search engines, generates traffic on the main website and is an additional, effective way of generating an audience. However, it requires continual work on updating and production of relevant content. Advice for using a blog successfully includes:
- Restrict time spent on the blog and determine the content of posts. Set yourself some goals and a precise posting schedule. How often do you think you’ll be able to post? What information would you like to share with your target audience? What topics would you like to tackle? Establish the categories and headings for optimum distribution of your editorial offering.
- Keep it short. The format of blogs and the internet in general lends itself to the posting of short, concise texts. Draft short texts and add external links if the subject goes beyond the scope of your article. Users want quick access to information.
- Convey information. Do not hesitate to post articles which have appeared on other blogs if they are likely to also be of interest to your audience. In this way, you will make yourself known among other bloggers and grow your network. Indicate the source of the link and its author clearly and transparently.
- Involve employees. Keeping a blog takes time and investment. Rather than let a blog go due to lack of time, involve your employees as much as possible. Include the author's name in each article.
- Diversify your sources of inspiration. A blog is an ideal tool for freeing yourself from the traditional limits of the company-customer relationship. Think about sharing your impressions on relevant reading, films, news. This is a great way to humanize your company and break the ice.
- Think ahead. If you are time poor and think you will not be able to meet your posting schedule, do not hesitate to write articles in advance, ready for posting.
- Bring in the experts. Rather than posting redundant or poor quality information, offer to do interviews with experts in your sector that you can put on your website. You will thus be providing your readership with interesting first-hand information while making yourself known to players who matter in your area of business.
- Assess your results. Think about regularly evaluating the impact of your posts on your traffic, using appropriate instruments, and adjust your strategy if necessary.
Sources: Réseaux Sociaux et Entreprise: Les Bonnes Pratiques, Christine Balagué and David Fayon, Pearson, 2011; Le Marketing en Ligne, Jon Reed and Christine Balagué, Pearson, 2011.