Unless you’ve been living under a rock that last few years; chances are you’ve heard about the importance of social media marketing and building a presence for your brand online. Maybe you have started but your efforts have stalled, or you want to get started but are unsure where to begin.
Success in social media marketing hinges on the same key principals that apply to more traditional marketing channels. It can be daunting at first, but here are 5 quick steps to help you formulate a plan and get started.
1. Establish your goals
What end result are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to increase sales? Are you trying to build brand awareness? Are you trying to access new niche markets? Are you trying to boost brand loyalty? Depending on your organization’s situation, your approach to social media can be very different and the activities you participate in will vary.
2. Know your audience and start small
When it comes to social media, the worst action is no action; however, starting small will help with the learning curve and allow you manage the process more efficiently. There are thousands of social networking sites. It can become overwhelming and very time consuming. Research and understand the demographics of your target audience. Where do they congregate online? What content is relevant to them? Depending on your social media goals and your audience, the networks you choose to target will vary. For the sake of starting small, here are the top 4 places to start:
Blog: If you don’t have one, there are a variety of free services available to help you create a blog. (blogger.com, thoughts.com, weebly.com, posterous.com, and wordpress.com to name just a few). Ideally, it should be a part of your website if at all possible. Content delivery is king and a blog is the cornerstone of your efforts. Keep in mind that with social media marketing, synergy is paramount. Advertising the social networking sites discussed below on your website is a must and connecting them together is equally as important. Many services are available and most website platforms offer you the ability to update all 3 sites simultaneously with your blog post; saving you time and building your networks concurrently. HootSuite is an example of one of those free services.
Facebook: The largest social network in the world, giving you access to millions of potential customers. It’s very easy to create a fan page to get started. Due to its sheer size and reach, we will do a follow up article on Facebook and strategies next month.
Twitter: Emerging as favorite for younger audiences, twitter gives you the opportunity to reach out to top influencers and search for people with similar interests. You can be targeted at who you “follow.” Once you “follow” them you’ll be able to read what they’re saying and what’s important to them on your Twitter home page. Additionally, the people you “follow” will more than likely “follow” you back.
LinkedIn: A business networking site that has over 100 million members and is adding one million users a month. Because LinkedIn focuses on professional networks, users are more likely to be receptive to being approached regarding professional services or business to business products. Creating a company page is simple and you can get started immediately.
3. Determine your internal resources and plan of action
Who will be involved with your social media efforts? Who will maintain your social media accounts? Who will be responsible for creating the content? When will content be delivered? (The best practice is to establish a content calendar to keep you on track). Understanding what resources you have and assigning responsibilities is critical.
4. Quality, not Quantity
This applies to content and the number of people in your network. Consumers are bombarded with content daily. Your content needs to be relevant, informative, and timely. Along the same lines; it’s far better to have 1,000 engaged followers or subscribers than 10,000 who could care less what you have to say and are not interested in your products or services.
5. Keep score, learn, and evolve
Track your progress. Are you achieving the goals you established? Have you added more “followers?” Has your brand awareness or mentions online increased? Have you seen increased traffic to your website from your social media networks? Understanding your desired results and your progress is vital. Listen and learn, is your message being received? Are people reacting positively or negatively? Social media is and will be ever evolving; don’t be afraid to test different strategies and don’t be afraid to walk away from what’s not working.
By David Pedelty | Creative HR Solutions