Everyone knows that promoting your business on social media can extend your reach, gain visibility for your brand and build meaningful relationships with your customers. If done correctly, it can be a highly cost effective way to market your company in the digital age.
But more often than not, I hear about businesses who just throw together a Facebook page because that's what everyone else is doing, or they sign up for a Twitter account and tweet, "We're on Twitter now!" and never come back to interact and engage with their audience.
Social media can be a strategic marketing tool, if set up and approached properly, and if you combine it with other forms of marketing.
Is social media right for your business? And if so, which networks should you have a presence on? Should you manage your accounts yourself, or is it worth it to hire a social media consultant?
Below are some sure-fire ways to get set up on social media the right way.
Define Your Purpose
Before jumping right in, you must figure out your purpose for using social media. Just like any other form of marketing, you need to formulate a strategy to reach your business goals. What is your main objective? Is it to increase brand awareness? Is it to get people to sign up for your email newsletter or download a trial version of your software? Having a clear cut layout of what it is you want to accomplish from the get go will ensure you stay focused and will ultimately lead to your success.
Some people may tell you to sign up for an account on all the social media networks, but for those just starting out, I believe this will only hurt you in the long run. Don't spread yourself thin. Besides, not all networks are important for every industry. A company selling t-shirts may work well on Facebook (posting engaging photos) but won't have the right demographic on LinkedIn (where it's geared more to professionals and business-to-business opportunities). It would be advisable for a restaurant to get set up on Foursquare, Yelp and other review sites, but a lawyer does not need to use these sites.
Don't Focus on Selling
I'm sure you're well aware of the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your revenues come from 20% of your customers. Take advantage of this concept and work towards building real relationships with your customers. Don't focus on the sale, it will come eventually, I promise you. And when it does, it won't just be a one-time transaction. It'll be from a loyal customer, someone who feels as though they can connect with you, they trust you and look at you as more than just a business. Hopefully they will be compelled to tell others about your business offerings or recommend your services. At that point you've succeeded at marketing with social media because you've focused on the social aspects, the human aspects, and weren't worried about how you're going to make money from it.
Know Your Audience
What good is marketing if you're talking to the wrong propsects? You're right: it isn't. Come up with your customer profile - nail down the details of your ideal customer - how old are they, what are their interests, what do they spend their money on, what are they passionate about, where do they spend their time online, what websites do they frequent and trust for news, etc.? The sooner you know these details, the sooner you can craft your content strategy to reach them exactly where and when they are.
As with anything in business, you must be prepared for the unknown. It's good to always keep an open mind and be flexible about things because in this day and age, especially in social media, things change so quickly that the only way for businesses to survive (and thrive) online is to be adaptable. Consider hiring a social media management team, people who are trained and experienced in this field, so that you don't have to worry about the small things and can focus on doing what you do best: running your business.
This is probably one of the most important points in this article, though it's often one of the more over-looked: patience. You've heard it before: good things come to those who wait. While this is not entirely true in all cases, it can be applied to social media marketing. Truth is, you're not going to see results overnight. You may not even see them after the first month. But if you have a sound strategy in place, and actionable steps and keep at it, I guarantee you will find success. After all, everyone and their mother is online, it's just a matter of reaching them.
It's the name of the game: social media. Make sure you are having fun. If you approach social media marketing with an optimistic attitude, if you truly want to engage with your audience and participate in the active discussion, marketing your products or services online will be a lot easier. You must view things from your customer's perspective and always ask yourself, is this something my fans really care about? Those with the most success using social media are those who are the most entertaining, the most conversational, and, let's face it, the most social.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Are there other tactics that you use?