Getting Started with Social Media
Social Media can be confused with using a major social network platform, such as Facebook, Google +, Twiiter, etc but social media is considered any action that you take to reach out and respond to current and potential customers of your product and/or service. This includes blogs, a chat application on a website, posting a video on YouTube, responding to questions (Yahoo Answers, Amazon Askville), and many others. By participating in social media you are opening a clear channel that allows large and small organizations to communicate directly with their customers/fans/followers/and whatever else social media sites want to call your money makers.
With that clarified, you have to start any major marketing endeavor with a plan. The following can help you get started with social media today or in the future:
1. Choose a social media site to start with
There are plenty of social media sites to choose from and all have varying advantages and disadvantages to your business. You may find that videos are not your forte but you find that writing passionately on a blog about what your business/organization is all about coupled with Search Engine Optimization can get you noticed by Search Engines which in turn lead potential consumers to you. But Search Engine Optimization is a whole other topic to describe and should be researched to find best practices. (Google “Search Engine Optimization Techniques”)
You may also find that potential customers and/or current customers flock to a specific social media site. Through research and participating in social media you will be able to discover which site is increasing your bottom line and which is not. Like anything that does not perform, cut your losses as soon as you can. You should not waste your energy on a fruitless attempt to make in big on a particular social media site when your potential customers are on another. But be aware that it will take time for your social media efforts to show results unless you are in demand, get lucky, a celebrity, or have some kind of magic lamp.
The following are a couple popular social media sites to choose as a starting point:
- Google Plus
The above is just a very short list of what you can use to expand your business.
You could also easily start with a company blog by utilizing a free blogging service such as Google’s Blogger, WordPress.com, and countless other free blogging platforms. (See bottom of page for a list of services)
2. Create a Plan of Action
What do you exactly want to do with the social network?
Are you looking to:
- Solve Customer Issues?
- Stage Contests?
- Offer advice, tips, and/or tricks?
You need to define your goals and be sure to track the effectiveness of the social media site in order to gauge the difference of your business with social media and your business without social media. There are plenty of analytical software that can help figure your social media effective but it is up to you to define what key metrics that are you are going to measure for your business. Key metrics could include the number of fans you have, the number of participants in a contest, the amount of visits to your page, etc.
One free service is Google Analytics and many social media networks allow you to integrate Google Analytics with your social network.
Keep in mind that a consumer can smell a marketer a mile away. Please refrain from sounding like one! Be Genuine, trustworthy, and when the mood is right try to get the sale.
3. Start Socializing!
Start writing, replying, interacting, and most of all have FUN!
The following are a couple tips to keep in mind when you start your journey:
- Be as transparent as you can.
- Don’t let users question your motives, clearly detail them out in black and white. No grey areas! Your users will discover them, no matter how good you are at hiding them.
- Post frequently.
- No one likes to read day old newspapers let alone expired cheese. Keep it fresh! Update frequently and consistently. Once you have the feel for your users, you will discover how long you should wait between updates.
- Add value.
- Give the user your insight, time, and tips. It does not matter if you are selling meat or a stapler. Give the user tips on how the meat can be prepared; give them insight on how long it takes to age a really good steak, etc. As for the stapler, tell your users it could double as a paper weight thus yielding a savings of $$$$ while allowing to staple crazy amounts of paper with the flick of a finger.
Be creative, be interesting, be engaging!
- Respond to your users.
- Many users are reaching out to a brand because they like them, want to learn more, have a complaint, or want to start trouble. (Yes, bullies will exist throughout our lives) If you do get a complaint, make sure it is warranted and if it is, respond to it. Reflect with the user, apologize and learn from the user. This complaint could affect more than one user and altering your operations may benefit the company as a whole.
- If a user publicly embraces your product, the least you could do is thank them for their support.
4. Analyze the Effectiveness, Rinse and Repeat.
With your key metrics in mind, begin analyzing the effectiveness of your social media efforts. (There are a few tools listed at the bottom of this page to help you with analytics.)
You will be involved with social media as long as your company is active. This is a very long marketing effort to stay active because the moment users discover that you are no longer there for them, they will frequent your site less and less. No one likes to be stood up, so be there for your users. You owe it to them. After all, they are the reason your business exists.
After you discover what is working with one social media site, it’s time to go back to step one and choose another social network and begin penetrating it until you find if the effort is fruitless or not. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat…
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