Outline Your Goals In a recent article we discussed the growth of social media. To make this point even more clear, it took television 13 years to reach 50 million users while it only took Facebook 3 years to reach 100 million users. There is no dispute that social media will play a major factor in business models in the future. Outline Your Goals In a recent article we discussed the growth of social media. To make this point even more clear, it took television 13 years to reach 50 million users while it only took Facebook 3 years to reach 100 million users. There is no dispute that social media will play a major factor in business models in the future. Now the question is “how do you effectively use social media to enhance your business’ bottom line”. Much like Google’s search engine algorithm, the most effective way to use social media is still not completely understood. There are many “experts” claiming they know the secret, but the truth is it is not a science. The following is only a guideline that we have tried to use in our social media campaigns. You should begin by outlining clear goals for your social media marketing efforts and figuring out how you’ll measure success. We will discuss measuring success in a future article. If you’re just beginning your marketing campaign there are several steps to take to build your foundation before you will see success. Once you’ve outlined your goals, here are some ways you can begin to leverage social media for your marketing efforts. Craft a compelling brand message As we continuously mention, designing a logo and controlling your marketing assets are vital to any marketing campaigns your business will undertake. Once you’ve decided on a logo, the most important thing is to maintain a consistent message across all social media platforms. Content is king It can’t just always be posting videos on Facebook and retweeting articles on Twitter. You have to be very creative and think outside the box. The main facet of a strong social media campaign is compelling and creative content. Content is what creates and fosters intimate relationships, and the more intimate relationships you have the more likely you will be able to generate strong ROI over time. Stay Involved I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay involved across all platforms. The keywords in social media are listening and engaging. It’s not easy, staying involved takes a lot of time and it is best to schedule time each day to respond to customers’ questions and to get out new content promoting your brand. Choosing Effective Platforms The size and type of your business will dictate which and how many social media platforms you should focus on. For example, if you are a small retail store, you may want to spend a lot of your time on Foursquare. If you are a company that sells services, foursquare may not be for you and you would be better served utilizing Facebook. Here is a brief look at the major platforms and how and when you should use them. Facebook Facebook offers exceptional, low cost marketing opportunities for small business. Facebook now has nearly 500 million users, and while that seems like an outrageous number for small businesses to be targeting, Facebook offers a very powerful platform on which to build a presence. If you’re not already active on Facebook; you should get started right away. Once you’ve signed up, you should secure your company’s username. One thing you should do is search for your competitors and evaluate their Facebook presence. What types of pages have they built? How many fans or “friends” do they have? Spend 15 minutes (per competitor) looking at their posts, photos and/or videos to understand how they’re using Facebook. A Business Fan Page lets you create a page where customers or fans of your business can register as a “fan” — expanding the presence of your business. Twitter Twitter has grown tremendously over the past year. For some small businesses, it offers an incredible marketing platform. Sign up for Twitter and reserve an account in the name of your business. (Important: make every attempt to have the same name across all platforms). Next, spend some time on Twitter’s homepage, doing basic searches to become familiar with the type of content available on the service. You should also search for the names of your competitors to see whether they’re on Twitter and how they’re using it. Once you become familiar with the content that’s already available and how your competitors are using Twitter, you can begin thinking about a strategy for how you’ll leverage Twitter for your business. To truly leverage Twitter, you’ll want to learn and use a few more advanced tools. This includes desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, HootSuite and Tweetie. Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more control over your Twitter strategy than you’ll have on the Twitter website. Also, many applications allow you to view your various social media platforms on one screen. I personally use TweetDeck. It seems like a little much in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it is a powerful tool. Company Blog A blog is a great way to get more content out about your company. Again, create a blog using your company name, if possible. Now that you’ve decided to start or improve your small business blog, how do you build an audience for it? It all starts with great content, remember content is king. Decide on a focus for your blog and write content that people will enjoy. Think about your expertise and more importantly, think about the things that you’re interested in writing about. A blog requires a long term investment of time and you don’t want to be stuck writing about things that bore you. Another important consideration about blogs is to post on other people’s blog. This can help build your reputation and credibility and lead to link backs. I personally use WordPress to manage our blogs. It is simple to use and has built-in functionalities making it easy to track your visitors and comments. YouTube YouTube has been constantly adding features that make it an attractive social site for businesses. I know I sound like a broken record, but try and get a subscription, or channel, using the name of your company. Although you don’t have to produce videos to participate on YouTube, you should consider whether simple videos can help your marketing efforts. One strategy is to write a blog and have a link to your YouTube channel showing a video that backs up your message. FourSquare As I previously mentioned, FourSquare can be a valuable tool, particularly for retail businesses. FourSquare is still in its infancy, but it is growing rapidly. As I’m sure you know by now, create an account using your company’s name! FourSquare is a great way to interact with your customers. You can promote specials, offer discounts to people using FourSquare or inform them of upcoming events. The cool thing is that your customers can post positive things about your business to their friends and create word of mouth advertising. Conclusion I’ve only mentioned some of the platforms available to use for your social media campaign. There are many more out there and I urge you to at least visit their sites and see if it can help in your strategy. I strongly recommend focusing on 2 – 3 platforms, especially if you are a smaller business. Again, it is extremely time consuming to be engaged and effective. Don’t spread yourself too thin. I hope this article has been informative and will help you take advantage of the marketing possibilities using social media.
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