There are several things that companies do to effectively use social media in their overall marketing strategy. I’m going to outline some of these strategies, and also talk about a few mistakes that companies and small businesses make when approaching social media.
First of all, let us define “social media.” In the past, up until a very short while ago, most information was given by relatively few, very important individuals. With the advent of the internet and social platforms such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the like, the world has burst into many incredible avenues of information flow. When we talk about “social media,” we talk about real people sharing real events in real time. How can I use social media to improve my business? Let me show you…
Step 1: Are you there yet?
It should go without saying, that if you don’t have a presence on all of the major social media platforms, you should. Even if you don’t plan to do anything with it yet, just throw a page up there. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but the simple act of making yourself exist will do wonders. You’ll be surprised, but people will start following you just because you exist.
Mistakes: Don’t go overzealous and do as many possible networks that you can find. Keep it relevant to your business. If you’re an online retailer, you don’t really need to be on Foursquare. However, Pinterest can be a huge money maker for you. Most companies can benefit from being on the big 4 (now): Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and yes, Google+.
Step 2: Get in there, or get someone intelligent to get in there for you
Social media is about engagement. The things you’re putting out there must not only be interesting, but also engaging and intelligently written. People can spot a fake. When posting, commenting or sharing content, you want something to be insightful, perhaps thought provoking and provide an immediate impulse. There’s so much going out there through the social sphere, it’s hard to get noticed. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.
Common mistakes: #1 If you have an overseas firm working on your social media, it’s likely it’s not getting very far. Why? Because Western culture drives western social media. That’s not to say our Indian and Pakistani friends are in any way bad or can’t do the job, but on the contrary, are extremely helpful in the ways that they can help. For things like social media, it’s very important to have an eye for detail, so if you do hire someone from overseas, make sure they’re extremely proficient in English (unless your market is elsewhere, of course). #2 Again, don’t overdo it and don’t stalk people. Overdoing it constitutes posting of more than 12ish times a day for Facebook and 20 times a day for Twitter. You’ll get noticed alright, but remember, quality > quantity. Quality builds your reputation.
Step 3: Use your tools:
There are many tools out there to be utilized for helping you with a social media strategy. One of those is called HootSuite. This is a nifty little social media personal assistant. You can schedule posts to all of your networks with the click of a few buttons, schedule posts for later, in fact set up your whole social routine for the week on Monday and let it go. There are other useful tools out there, so check them out!
Common Mistakes: Be very sure to quality control check the tools that you use and the way that you use them. If you use tools incorrectly, your posting can show up spammy and do you more harm than good.
Step 4: Routine and Growth
Once you establish a pattern and routine to your social media, start to branch out a little bit. Use a personal profile to get in touch with niche-related groups. Start a group yourself, perhaps. Take your fanpage and “like” your competitors fans’ comments. Be sure to respond to feedback you get via comments, @mentions or being tagged. Try spending some advertising money. When you get invited to events, join them even if you don’t plan on going. The more your name shows up to people, the more likely your page will attract fans and followers. Very soon you will hit critical mass and your niche market will have no trouble finding you.
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