Social media is first and foremost about sharing. People upload videos to YouTube, write blogs for the world to see, share their favorite bookmarks on Digg, and post links to interesting articles on Twitter. If your company is aiming to start venturing out into social media marketing, you have to understand that the conversation can’t just be about you. You have to be sharing information with the rest of the world while showing off that your company has expertise in whatever you do. On Twitter, for instance, some say the ratio of self-advertising to sharing should be 20% and others 10% of all tweets. There is no set formula here, but you need to be sharing some news about your industry or product that is not just advertising but genuinely providing valuable information to the community. This “indirect” way of advertising, if done well, is what separates the savvy social media marketer from the rest.
Social media is incredible because people are having real-time conversations. There are comments after comments posted on bookmarking sites and blog articles, and on Twitter people are chatting about anything and everything as we speak. Many PR agencies have noticed this and are urging companies to maintain a social media presence to protect or even expand upon their brand image. Others see Twitter as a way to provide an additional channel for customer support. Either way, if there are people chatting about your company and/or product, you need to be able to support them. I had a very bad experience with a web hosting service, which I tweeted about several times to my 20+ thousand followers. That company was not present on Twitter and didn’t realize that I had already given their brand a bad wrap to several thousand potential customers. They should have better supported me…as you know, every support issue is a chance to turn a mad customer into a happy one, and everyone else on that social networking site will hear about it! Your social media presence has to be one of supporting your customers, which should not be looked at as a “cost” but as a chance to increase sales because everything you do in social media is transparent and public to all!
Social media is comprised of people becoming friends with each other and socializing. If you are not socializing and making friends you should not be on social media. If you are not engaging with your followers or potential customers, your social media marketing success will be negatively affected. By socializing and making new fans for yourself, your business benefits because everyone around can witness this happening. Social media can be the most viral piece of your marketing activities if done well. Engage. Communicate. Socialize like a “rockstar”, because the “rockstars” of Twitter are those that are extremely social with their followings.
Just as professionals must have objectives in using Social Media, it is even more important that businesses don’t waste time and money engaging in social media without a strategy. Each type of social media has different functionality, demographics, and environment. Take a good look at what you want to achieve through social media, analyze the different channels for social media, create your online brand and profiles, and execute while recording the metrics and outcomes you need to adjust your strategy over time. Social media is a constantly changing medium, and chances are that you will still need to fine-tune your strategy over time to adjust. Get used to being in a constant state of flux and making real-time adjustments to how you market on social media.
Everything that I have talked about until now is all hunky-dory. But at the end of the day, if your social media marketing efforts aren’t generating more business, you need to rethink your strategy. But how will you know if your social media efforts are contributing to your sales? You need to be creative here and set up landing pages, trackable URLs, unique products, campaigns…anything that can help you track the effectiveness of your social media activities. Numbers of Twitter followers and Facebook Fan Page Fans alone mean nothing, except that your advertising may be broadcasting to a larger group of people. You can measure the ROI of social media marketing; there are tools for you to use. But without being able to track your sales, how do you know how much to budget for social media?
There is much more advice that can be given to businesses who want to embark on social media marketing, but a lot of the advice will, at the end of the day, revolve around these Five S’s. I look forward to expanding upon these ideas in future blog posts.
Did I miss any other important aspects that you’d like to point out? Please feel free to comment and contribute!