The same question keeps landing in my inbox: Should managed services providers (MSPs) leverage social media? I though we covered this before. But perhaps it's time to really, really simplify the conversation. If you're a managed services provider (MSP), here are the four easiest social media moves you should make. Plus, the expected benefit of each move.

1. Launch a blog: No, not a traditional blog. You don't need to have an opinion about everything. Instead, use a blog engine like WordPress to post your press releases and company news. Do one post per week, three paragraphs per post. The posts can cover topics like:
  • New hires or new executive promotions
  • New business or customer wins/case studies
  • Recent partnership developments
  • Special offers/incentives
  • Business milestones (growth rates, office openings, revenue achievements)
Reasoning: Many MSPs waste thousands of dollars trying to search engine optimize (SEO) their static old websites. Blog engines like WordPress, meanwhile, have built-in SEO capabilities. And add-on tools (like Kutenda) can help VARs or MSPs launch online marketing campaigns in a very cost-effective manner. So stop building corporate websites from scratch. Stop fretting about SEO. And start using pre-built platforms that have built-in SEO. Customers will discover you far faster without any need for you to spend big-time dollars on the effort.

2. Use Twitter (Responsibly): Twitter can be a huge time sink. A complete waste of time. A distraction. Or, you can use it as a free newswire service that sends out alerts to your key followers. Free automation tools allow you to broadcast your blog headlines across Twitter. Also, you should "follow" key Twitter users who can impact your business -- local executives, business associations, trade groups.

Reasoning: Even if you don't find new customers on Twitter, technology vendors will find you. Got a gripe with a hardware maker? Tweet about it. Frustrated by vendors that refuse to integrate their products? Tweet about it. You'd be amazed how quickly vendors react to tweets to address your business needs...

3. Use LinkedIn and FaceBook (Responsibly): Once again, free automation tools allow you to broadcast your blog headlines across LinkedIn and FaceBook. And once again, follow the folks who matter to you.

Reasoning: LinkedIn and FaceBook are becoming personal search engines of sorts. People change jobs all the time. And customers may forget the exact name of your company or exact URL. But if they remember your name they'll find you on LinkedIn and Facebook.

4. Figure Out Video. Fast: Video echoes forever. MSPmentor and The VAR Guy readers keep visiting our YouTube destination to view videos dating back to 2008. The long-tail viewership never stops. But be careful: Don't waste your money on video capture and editing services that don't understand your business. If you sign up with a video partner make sure they understand how MSPs service customers. Also, dial your vendor to see if they'd like to feature you (and your customer) in a video case study.

Reasoning: Search Google or Bing and you'll find video results everywhere. Words are nice. But video brings your company to life. And low-cost video tools (Cisco Flip Camera, for example) have allowed video to become ubiquitous. Generally speaking, I trust people more when I "see" them. Look a camera in the eye and tell customers what you're up to. I suspect you'll gain more customers. Bonus Reason: Your YouTube videos are easy to embed in your corporate blog. And you can also permit anyone -- customers, partners, etc. -- to leverage your videos elsewhere.

Suddenly, your brand can go viral.

SEO for Dummies

I realize I've greatly simplified the social media debate here. There are scores of tools/technologies that can help you to further enhance your social media presence. But don't get overwhelmed. At the very least, start with step 1 above for the key reasons I've outlined. Or call in a consulting pro that understands the channel. Ulistic comes to mind. But I bet there are additional options in your back yard.

Trust me. Blog engines remain the ultimate way to spread news about your company. Fast.

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