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Friday, March 16, 2012

Social Media is More Than Status Updates

It’s difficult for many organizations to embrace social media because they do not understand the professional applications. The likes of Twitter and Facebook provide a platform to participate and communicate with friends and family, but the same collaborative websites can be put to work for your business.

Social media marketing is a term that describes the use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis and other online media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service. Most businesses fail with these initiatives because they treat them like a one-time campaign, or a short term experiment. For success, social media marketing needs to be a long term business strategy that utilizes a standard marketing formula.

Four key principles apply to social media:

  • Use valuable content to establish yourself as an expert
  • Use research and industry knowledge to change user perception on a particular issue
  • Create brand awareness by leveraging consistent messages and styles
  • Measure your ROI

Do you know where your customers are?

You wouldn’t waste valuable time, money and resources on a marketing initiative that customers wouldn’t see. Social media marketing is no different. All your efforts are worthless if potential customers are not where you are posting content.

  • Ask your existing customers what social networking sites they use
  • Try some of the most popular sites first such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yahoo Answers
  • Investigate where your competitors are posting
  • Type in keywords and find search results related to your industry or niche
  • Look for secondary or other potential audiences that you typically don’t reach in your marketing initiatives

Do you have the resources to maintain a social marketing plan

Many business owners jumped on the social marketing bandwagon because it was trendy. They spent time and money to create a discussion group or a blog, than realized they had nothing to say or share. Establishing a social marketing presence is the first step, but a true marketing effort requires an actual strategy.

You wouldn’t build a website if you didn’t have someone to write content; you would not develop a direct mail piece if you didn’t have anyone to answer calls from potential clients; you would not initiate a pay-per-click campaign if you didn’t have a landing page to present your offer. The same rules apply for social media – make certain you address these key issues:

  • Who will participate in your social media initiatives?
  • How much time will you allot for social media?
  • Can you continue to publish valuable content on a regular basis?

Do you know how to measure the success of your plan?

Most business owners do to measure the success of their social media marketing. It’s a free medium, so anything they get from their efforts is an added bonus, right? Wrong.

The problem is it’s not free. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to strategize, produce, maintain, and measure social media marketing. It’s a non-stop cycle. In fact, the time and resources necessary can actually be more than other marketing initiatives. Many companies make the mistake of keeping their social media marketing in-house without any resources to support it.

Because of the commitment needed measuring your initiatives is imperative. How is this done? It’s different for everyone but a few things to consider are:

  • Do you see increased website traffic?
  • Are users engaging in your posts?
  • Are users getting to your conversion pages?
  • Have you seen an increase in sales or product awareness?

How do I get started?

Give us a call to discuss the first steps in starting your social media marketing.

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