If there’s one path of determination that businesses alike have trouble developing, it’s a social media following. According to 2010 Social Media Marketing Report, 67% of marketers plan to use some form of a social media channel including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. But don’t be sucked into these statistics because you’d be surprised to know that not every business actually has a Facebook or Twitter. But the real question that comes to mind is why? Or simply for what reasons does a business not include social media into their online marketing strategy?
Let’s start with the strategy that businesses use to create their online following, develop an online social presence, and eventually funnel their users to a product or service page. Now most people who get involved with social media do it because they believe that simply having it will do some form of good. But is this true? Actually, no it’s not. Jumping into social media with both feet and no business objective can be a waste of time, and is called a Social Media Time Sink. Developing clearly defined objectives will always provide some form of return on time investment, may it be Followers, Likes, etc.
You’ll want to find the right strategy for your business. By having this clear objective you can bypass all the confusion and make it easier for users searching through the social media jungle to find your page. Once you’ve done that you’ll ask yourself, what can you say that will interest your audience? How do you say it? Where should it be said? Simply put, don’t waste your time on someone else’s social media tactics. Find the time to create your own that will connect your business to your audience.
After developing your strategy you’ll have to continue with the process. It certainly does not end there and will require true social presence. Remember to stay focused on your strategy because social media can require some major time. Choose your social platforms carefully. You cannot be everywhere at once and where you decide to be will determine what kind of environment you’ll be catering to. Try to take things slowly and learn as much as you can about where you’ll be present.
Social Media Content
One of the most important pieces to the social media puzzle is what your audience will be seeing. Developing an effective content strategy is incredibly useful for earning awareness, familiarity, likability and most importantly trust. Developing your content strategy starts with understanding what your audience is talking about and getting involved in those conversations. Know where your audience wants to have these conversations and where they spend most of their time online. Once you’ve been involved with your audience you’ll want to measure exactly what the hot topics are.
When you’re developing your content strategy you’ll want to research the keywords or language that your audience uses on the social web. Sometimes this can take some effort if you’re not familiar with the proper tools and may even eventually lead you into utilizing SEO tactics and keyword analysis. A keyword analysis begins with a list of the phrases and words that your audience is using to find the kind of products and services that you provide. Some popular keyword analysis tools include Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Keyword Discovery. An analysis will give you the tools to identify key phrases and terms related to your business.
How to Choose a Social Media Platform
Once you’ve determined what your audience is looking for you’ll have to discover where they hold their conversations. There a few methods of engaging with a social media platform, which depends heavily on your business size, type, and objective. Most companies might be better served committing to one or two social networks, without overextending themselves. Where your audience interacts with each other depends on their demographics, such as age and gender, and what your product, service or agenda is. A company that manufactures hip sunglasses might do better on Facebook, which is great for B2C selling, whereas a services company might do better on LinkedIn for B2B marketing.
Becoming a blogger is a powerful tool for getting your audience involved with your business. It has ample SEO and social media benefits and can be an essential part of using keywords for your content strategy. Creating content for blogs can be a little difficult if you’ve never made one before and increasing its visibility can be even more difficult. Here’s a short list of ways to make it easier for people to find your blog:
- Identify the most popular posts and keywords and decide how you can post more content that is similar.
- Track comments by knowing what readers are responding with. Find ways to keep yourself in the conversation.
- Commit your blog ideas that promise virality, don’t just post to create noise. Create value for your audience.
- Take the time to optimize your posts. Blog headlines are a huge importance for first impressions.
- Use different kinds of promotion. Don’t rely on people just landing on your blog through your website. Once you’ve integrated into Facebook or Twitter, use these to remind people that you update a blog with valuable content.
- Always provide your readers with new content. Once someone becomes a new reader you don’t just want them to “hit it and quit it”, you want them to become regulars. Include calls-to-action in your content and always include links to your other posts to drive readers to related content.
Providing a presence for your business on LinkedIn can be useful for several reasons. This is the go-to place for professional interactions. While it may not boast as much audience as other social media platforms, it will surely give you the chance to establish credibility through searches in the Answers section.
Who doesn’t have a Facebook these days, right? The powerhouse social media platform has long triumphed over MySpace and continues to grow as it incorporates more and more advertising into its mission. As stated above, not all businesses are on Facebook, while it may not seem like it. This can be an easy way to start growing a following and give people a chance to learn more about your business and why you’re even involved in social media. So how do you develop a Facebook strategy? Here’s a short list:
- Create your vision. This is the beginning to creating a following on any platform, but in Facebook’s case it can start a lot for your business. Your vision may not change the world, but as long as the people who are behind your brand are passionate and committed, you’ll see audience growth beyond your direct intentions.
- Carefully brand your page. The goal of having a Facebook page is to drive your customers to your webpage, but you don’t want to push them too quickly. Creating a simple bridge between the two can increase traffic and develop a loyal following.
- Utilize inbound marketing. This is a huge part of getting people on your Facebook page. The idea of “build it and they shall come” was definitely not meant for Facebook! You’ll need to find ways to link people to your page from your webpage, or some other direction. Some strategies include the use of keywords, opt-in opportunities, video, blogs, and cross-promoting on your other social networks.
Don’t be fooled by everyone’s negativity about Twitter and why it’s a waste of time. There’s a lot of opportunity out there and it comes in the form of hash tags (#tags). These little guys are an easy way to tag topics, ideas and interests (ex. #latestnews, #howtosavewater, #football) that you want others to find. It can be as simple as responding to current events, or reminding people about what your business is doing. Re-tweet other people’s tweets and watch as people in turn do the same to you.
The above mentioned social media platforms are only a few of the most popular ones being used today. While it may seem like a fruitful advantage to get involved with as many as possible and as fast as possible, this is a recipe for “social suicide”. We’ve all heard the expression and it definitely can apply to businesses in the online social media world today. Take the time to truly understand the social platforms you want to get involved with. Learn as much as possible about them and how you can use their capabilities to promote your business. Each one is very different and you’ll have to figure out which works best for you.
Remember that social media is an “all hands on deck” marketing approach so you’ll have to be committed and consistent if you want to be successful. Be sure to outline your strategy before jumping in and support it with the right tactics. If you carefully think out your plan you won’t be overwhelmed with social media or, even worse, get burnt out with it.