Do you remember a time when social media didn’t exist? Neither do we. While the concept of social networking is by no means a new one, the rise of what we now collectively recognize as social media makes anything b.f. (before Facebook) seem like the dark ages.
As of February 2013, Facebook reported 1.06 billion monthly users, Twitter reported 500 million users, LinkedIn reported 200 million users, and the list goes on. Let’s face it; social media is here to stay.
With this in mind, it is more important than ever for your business to have a solid social media marketing strategy. It’s not enough to simply create social media pages and hope for the best. Used properly, it can be one of the most efficient (not to mention cost-effective) marketing tools to expand your business’s online footprint, directly engage with customers and prospects and promote your brand.
Here are some things to keep in mind when using social media to market your business.
Know Your Audience
It cannot be stressed enough that knowing your audience is essential. All the brilliant ideas in the world won’t matter if they are falling on deaf ears. Think about what your brand represents and whom specifically you want to reach with your message – segment your audience accordingly. The more you know and understand your audience, the better poised you are to reach them directly with quality, original content that they will value. This in turn establishes loyalty, which leads to conversions.
Engage and Interact
Don’t lose sight of the “social” component of social media. Audiences now are savvy enough to realize when a company is simply lining up content to methodically send out over social media, and it can actually be detrimental to your brand. Meaningful engagement can mean the difference between a first time visitor and a paying customer. Use your social media platforms to reply to comments and post new ones that your audience can use to engage in discussion. Be respectful in your comments and respond in a timely manner. The more users feel you hear them, the more engaged they will be. This will trigger more likes, shares, comments and re-tweets.
Not surprisingly, people are usually willing to engage with businesses if there is something in it for them. One of the keys to attracting new consumers and establishing customer loyalty is offering something of value. While giveaways, rewards and coupons are excellent, value doesn’t always have to mean monetary. Information can be just as valuable to some users. This is why it’s important to know your audience - what will they find important or interesting enough to engage with you? Help solve a problem or offer a downloadable resource on a relevant topic. When fans look to your business for thought leadership and informative content, it helps establish credibility for your brand. Another good tactic is acknowledgement. Simple gestures like giving shout-outs and thanks to loyal fans can go a long way.
Integration Expands Reach
The beauty of social networking is that it's built to be shared. When you post something to your blog and share it on Twitter, it goes to each of your followers. But when that message is scattered across multiple channels, it has the potential to reach consumers who would have otherwise never heard of your business. Make it as easy as possible for people to engage and share your content with their own networks. For example, put social media share buttons on your website pages and include links in your newsletters and email signatures.
The well of opportunity with social media runs deep and new trends and technologies are emerging every day. While the social media landscape is constantly evolving, the fundamentals and principals of smart marketing will always apply.
By Drew Himel