Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn are great places to start when you first begin dipping your toes into the world of business and social media marketing. There are of course big benefits to be had (we hear all about them in the news and online) and that’s probably why you’re reading this article.
Maybe you already have a few social media accounts but you’re not sure you’re focussed enough, or perhaps you’re a complete beginner and need a bit of direction for your strategy and implementation. Before I get onto discussing the all important things you need to consider though when designing your strategy, you should know this: social media marketing isn’t something to shy away from. It’s an incredibly powerful and an incredibly useful tool once you know how to use it and once you’re confident in your strategy you’ll find that Social Media will help your brand grow and develop fast.
1. Interact – Don’t just observe.
Social media marketing is all about being social. That sounds kind of obvious but you’d be surprised at how may businesses set up Twitter and Facebook accounts and then never interact with their customers and competitors. There is no use in sitting back and watching other people tweet or update – you should be getting involved yourself. If you communicate with people, you see results. It’s as simple as that. You can be pretty inventive here – have a think about what your customers would want to read about, think about what their issues are and what their concerns are. This is the stuff you should be talking about. Throughout all this communication though, it is essential to keep in mind your end goal: do you want customers to buy your product? Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want them to share your content with their friends? Whatever it is – it should be at the forefront of your mind.
2. Think about when they’re most likely to listen
So you’ve begun tweeting / updating / pinning, and you’ve got a good basis of followers and fans. Now what? Well, think about the time of day you’re interacting. If your audience is mainly corporate then try engaging with them in their lunch hour (not 9am when their inbox is full). Selling teaching supplies to teachers? Don’t try and engage with them in school hours (8am – 4pm) because they’ll have their hands full, probably with a classroom of 25 children. You can’t compete with that!
3. Build a support network for customers or clients
Social Media doesn’t have to just be a communication device for trivial issues though – you can use Social media to support and help your customers too. Maybe they’re looking for something, maybe they have a problem with a product, or just a simple query about a purchase: whatever it is, you should encourage them to ask you questions. Just don’t forget to give them answers! Look at brands like Heathrow airport – they are constantly helping people out with their twitter and are a perfect example of using Social Media for customer service.
4. Don’t jump on all the band wagons.
Some social media and networking platforms just won’t be suitable for your business. That’s just how it goes. Don’t feel pressure to join every single social networking site you can think of – the trick is to join the ones that work for your brand and your niche or product. If you’re a wedding photographer – joining Pinterest is an awesome idea. If you’re plumber – it probably isn’t. Think about how suitable your content and opinions will be for your audience too. If you’re a PA for a famous celebrity (pretty extreme example here, but bear with me) tweeting about your boss and how much of a diva she is – will definitely be interesting but probably to all the wrong people. Before you know it you’ll be fired and be responsible for the bad reputation your ex-boss now has.
5. Consider offering an online discount
If someone is invested in your brand or product so much that they regularly check out your social media sites, consider putting some weekly offers up for them to look out for. Think of it as a token gesture, it encourages loyalty among your existing customers but also draws in a fresh audience too (which is what we call “winning”). As far as marketing goes – this is pretty standard practise and is actually an age old marketing tip, it’s just modernised for social media and online audiences.
6. Don’t forget about the other benefits
Remember your SEO efforts too when embracing social media – because the two are very intertwined. Like Bill and Ben the flower pot men. Or Kermit and Miss Piggy. If you’re doing guest blogging, remember to link back to your website! If you’re tweeting about an exciting new product, link to it! If you’re pinning stuff to Pinterest – link to your site! It’s pretty easy to employ – you just need to remember.
7. Remember your main aim
So it was just announced yesterday that we’re in a second recession. So for heavens sake – don’t forget what the point of any business is: to make a profit. The end aim of embracing social media marketing is to increase your sales or increase the publicity for your brand. Yes, it’s enjoyable and fun and it’s great to interact, but the sales are what keeps the business running so keep this in mind.