Social media is not a numbers game

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Also posted on: IT Infrastructure

In a previous blog we highlighted the importance of social media for data centres and looked at some examples of companies doing Twitter right. Now, we have taken our research further to assess the way in which data centres use LinkedIn and also, how they present themselves via their websites. To guide us we have used The Cluetrain Manifesto and Clayton Christensen’s Jobs To Be Done as a guide to help us understand if data centre operators are engaged in real conversations with their customers and are helping those same people find solutions to their jobs to be done.

We have used desk based research to assess company, as opposed to individual employee, social media usage across 76 UK and Continental European data centre operators. Here are some of our initial observations.

There is no conversation. Company LinkedIn pages are without exception broadcasting messages, opinion and product information. Twitter feeds, apart from a few dedicated support feeds, are not much better. Often if there are ‘likes’ or ‘comments’, these come from a reasonably small group of followers. A brief scan of those followers tends to suggest that many of them are from existing employees or channel partners. At best awareness and understanding levels among customers and prospects may be improved, but it is unlikely that any acceptance or advocacy will be enhanced.

Volume doesn’t grow followers…necessarily. We analysed the impact of posting and tweeting frequency on the number of followers and there was little pattern. Sure, if you are part of a large, well known organisation, particularly telco oriented, then numbers of followers looked quite impressive. But by applying some ratios, such as followers per employee that minimise the natural impact of being big, we found that there was little correlation between the volume of posts and tweets and the numbers of followers.

Websites don’t make it easy for customers to find solutions for the jobs to be done. A few operators stand out by trying to focus on the problems of the customer and how they help solve those problems. Equinix and Interxion are good at doing this. Among the smaller operators Virtus stood out in linking their solutions to the challenges their customers faced. AQL has a very smart new website that opens with a bold customer focus. When they get sufficient content to back up the orientation of the website we wouldn’t hesitate to put them near the top of the table. Before others cry foul, many operators do focus on business issues. However, you often have to navigate to vertical industry solution pages or case studies to get a sense about the jobs to be done. The best operators do then make the connection to how their offers help, but many don’t. There is a wealth of good content that needs to be brought forward in the website and those connections made. Your customers are notoriously short on patience when navigating websites for information.

There are more statistics we could throw out, but we want to move on. We will be trying to understand whether the individuals who are either used to front tweets and posts for the company, or who post independently have an impact on social media effectiveness. We would love to hear your views and opinions on this. After all, social media is supposed to be a conversation.

Let me leave you with a contentious observation. Donald Trump had a huge impact on the US Presidential campaign in general, and on social media in particular, because people believed they were hearing his genuine voice. Not that I am suggesting you should be like Donald Trump, but how can you connect with your audiences in a way that a genuine voice comes across as opposed to one pushing out the same corporate messages? What’s your opinion?

This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.