The case for using social media and integrating it into your online marketing plan isn’t as black and white as you’d think. There are tremendous SEO benefits to deploying an effective Social Media strategy. Be forewarned, there are pitfalls for those that show up to the dance once and go home. Social Media is an on-going investment in your Brand – the promotion may take place online, but you are engaged in Brand Building just the same. And just like all of your other marketing initiatives, it is important to deploy your online Social Media with a level of strategic precision.
OK, let’s slow down and look at the Pros and Cons of Social Media . . .
First the Pros: Social Media helps promote a business by using the tried and tested ‘friend of friend’ approach of word of mouth promotion. Research has shown that when a consumer arrives to your website as a result of a referral from their ‘friend’ network, they tend to stay longer, read more pages and generally interact with your website which in turn, tends to lead to increased sales (more so for websites that have e-commerce capability).
The Cons: Social Media can also damage reputations, tarnish your brand, or falsely accuse you of poor service – many times anonymously – with little or no real way to counter the attacks and restore your good name.
Have I surprised you? No, OK then, let’s head down the proverbial Rabbit Hole and look at how to successfully deploy a Social Media campaign.
Step #1 – Get a website. These days, ‘linking’ your website to numerous Social Media outlets is commonplace (just look at the top right hand corner of this website). Most businesses have some form of ‘Social Media Widget’ tagged on their site. If you have a website and have yet to do this, get to work.
Step #2 – Link everything. Scroll down to the bottom of this blog, notice the Sociable Widget that allows you to link to all of the major social media sites. Go ahead, ‘Like Me’ or better yet, Tweet about this blog to your network.
Step #3 – Give me something of value. Time is a precious commodity and if you want me to spend time on your site, your Facebook page or review your Tweets then make them informative or have them link to informative pages on the Internet or at the very least, add a little humor and make me laugh out loud – humor is a very effective way to build a following.
Step #4 – Choose your Social Networks wisely. For most businesses, the easiest social network to join and grow is LinkedIn (you probably already have a LinkedIn account). From LinkedIn, you can grow your network based on your previous employment (link to fellow co-workers). Also, if you’re like me and don’t have a ton of time to spare, you can ‘link’ your LinkedIn status updates to your Twitter account. Then, as I’ve done with this blog announcement, you log into your account and make one status update that reaches multiple audiences. I’ve also linked my Twitter account to my Facebook status update page: one-stop – numerous audiences.
LinkedIn is the corporate worlds version of Facebook and facilitates business-to-business (B2B) promotion. For consultants and other corporate professional service providers, LinkedIn is a valuable resource that has been proven to generate new business opportunities.
Step #5: Get on Facebook and setup your corporate page. This is a little tricky to do and you need to be careful to set it up without being logged in to your own personal Facebook account. Corporate Facebook pages are different and should be treated as a serious part of your online marketing effort. You can link specific articles and customer specials to your Facebook page. Also, you can offer your ‘Likes’ (aka Facebook friends) exclusive Facebook deals. Again, offer something of value and I’ll probably like you and add you to my network.
Social Media Networks are one of the most powerful online marketing tools available to small businesses. We live in a connected world and everyone knows everyone else by virtue of some form of connection. I may not know you or your product directly, but someone in my network might; if I’m considering making an investment, odds are that I’ll seek out suggestions from my social network. It’s just another form of securing referrals – but much more than that. Social Media Networks expand your reach exponentially. When I ‘Like’ your business, everyone in my network knows about it. If only 10% check out your business and ‘Like’ you, everyone in their network is advised, an so on, and so on, etc. Friends of friends of friends advising and promoting businesses throughout the Internet, it’s all connected – just as we’re all connected. Of course, once we connect, you’d better offer me something of value.
Next week, I’ll spend more time on Online Reputation Management and Online Brand Building. In our connected world, it has become an important topic for many businesses that have had their Brand maliciously targeted. For now, I’ll leave you with this parting request, look at the Social buttons below – please pick one and share this blog about Social Media.