When using social media to grow a business, the worst action is no action, and the worst problem is invisibility- not bad perception. If you’re part of the conversation you can always massage what people are saying about your brand; but if nobody knows about you, then you have no chance of growth. What this means is that you need to get involved: not only to exploit the many business opportunities available for your business, but also to develop a winning reputation.
It’s a good idea to start by developing a plan that takes into account the social trends that characterize social media interaction today and organize a framework that will help make your conversations popular and relevant. But with all this mass of social networking sites and tools available today, how does one navigate through it all to set up a strategy that works? Here are ten steps to get you started:
• Set up goals. Think about what you hope to achieve from the social interaction. Are you doing it to generate direct sales, offer better customer service, or better yet, develop stronger relationships with your clients? Your answers to these questions will determine how you go about setting goals.
• Consider your resources. It’s going to take more than a clever idea to set up a marketing plan that works: you need people working for you. Someone has to set up the social media accounts, engage with customers and respond to questions, create compelling content, etc.
• Know your audience well. Find out where your audience spends time, what conversations they are involved with, who influences them, and what kind of information they’re looking from you. In order to provide your audience what they want, you first have to understand who they are, how they think, and what they want from you.
• Come up with good content. Once you find out what your audience is into, you can then work on giving them something to talk about and possibly share. Conversations have to keep going and this means creating lots of good content for the audience. Try to create a variety of different types of content that can be shared.
• Consider quality. While the pressure of creating content is certainly understandable, you cannot resolve to create a bunch of pointless topics for the sake of interaction; people will tire of it. The goal here is to build actual customers and that won’t happen if you’re not offering useful information and products/services.
• It’s tempting to promote your products every two minutes on every social platform available to you but you may need to do something not self-promotional so that you don’t come off overly self-absorbed or too salesy.
• Find time every day to look up what’s going on in social circles and engage with your customers to find out what the general vibe is about your brand.
• Learn the culture of social networks. What are your competitors doing and what does that teach you? Learn more about social trends and find out where companies or brands have gone wrong with marketing strategies so that you don’t make similar mistakes.
• Acquire brand ambassadors by observing the most active people in the social networks and encourage them to sell your brand.
So which social platforms should I concentrate on? Most large brands operate dozens of social media accounts but they have more people working on that so you might not be able to start big. Besides, you want to learn how to use each website perfectly to get your message across and this might take more time if you embarked on creating 2o social media accounts at once. Focus your attention where it matters and learn everything about those websites and how larger businesses use them to promote their own brands.
When it comes to this, the numbers don’t lie; you want the websites with the highest number of active users in order to get a broader reach. Facebook alone will get you access to a social network with over a billion users worldwide. If Facebook were a country somewhere off the coast of California, it would be the third largest in the world in terms of population. Features such as Like, Timeline, Newsfeed, Apps, Cover Photo, and Mobile Upload; these will be useful as you gradually build a connection with your prospects, so learn the lingo and get to work.
You get up to 140 characters when sending out messages to your subscribers and you can include links, videos and photos as well. Adding images and videos expands the message because the words are somewhat limited and you need to communicate more effectively than 140 characters can articulate.
If you have an existing Twitter account for your brand but have let it drop off lately, you might want to take a fresh look at what Twitter’s offering. Features such as real-time marketing and multi-screen usage will be useful to your marketing efforts. In the world of micro-blogging, Twitter stands as the most powerful tool you can use for business. Other popular microblogging sites include Plurk, FriendFeed and Tumblr.
Present your brand
Your social media accounts form the foundation of your marketing efforts. They give you the chance to tell the world about your business and so they need to be well defined. Create a web presence people find appealing and distinct; that way people recognize your brand across multiple platforms.
In order to present the brand more confidently, you have to fill up and complete the profile, and make sure people know your bio, the actual location of the business and the address to the official company website. When creating a social network for your business, start with these people: 1. Customers 2. Business partners, suppliers and contractors 3. Relevant trade organizations for your industry 4. Local businesses in your neighborhood
Work up a time schedule for social media
You could end up spending hours each day trying to keep up top speed with what’s going on online so if you want to manage your time better, create a time management structure to keep your time online useful and strategic. One way to do this is to find out what time your customers start responding to your feeds, and take a couple of hours to engage.