The term social media simply means that you are using social skills and methods to market (and it’s not just online). It is the flip of what those commercials do. It’s a give-to-gain model, and sharing-is-caring…
Imagine a company placing commercials on television or big banners along a freeway. In doing so, they are trying to convince you to come to them and get you to act on their specials or discounts – their offers. The company is going out searching for you – their (future) customers.
In social media, customers come to you instead. Rather than selling and pitching your business, you interact, make friends – and get the conversation goin with customers in a way that makes them want to do business to you (later). The days of hard selling are over. Now, it is a matter of building up a network based on the needs and skills of the business or the marketer.
How do you build up this network?
Your job is…
Your job in social media will be to research your marketplace, establish goals (number of new friends per week, for example), start the listening process. Then, as you start engaging, communicating, you will use various (free) tools on the web to help generate more traffic and brand awareness about your company and websites. You will not be selling the company or the company’s services, but rather forming relationships with your new ‘friends’. The good news is that each of these methods of connecting listed here are free to use and they can be fun as well.
What does social media do for a business?
- It allows the company to improve its reputation.
- It helps to build brand recognition for the company.
- It helps to get more traffic to blogs and websites.
- It works to enable better communication between potential customers and the business.
- It works to increase sales by being present in the marketplace.
Let’s talk about how you can get it into the business’s marketing model.
The following are several websites you may have heard about. For each one, you will want to create an account (all of which are free of charge) for your business (and, if you are in the business of providing social media services, set these profiles up for your clients). Then, you will use that account to accomplish the tasks that you have for marketing, of which we will provide examples.
In short, you are creating a presence for the company on each of these social medial platforms. The process is easy enough to do, especially once you create a schedule to allow the process to go that much faster. Setting these up take most of the time, typically.
How to use Youtube – Video.
YouTube.com has become a social sensation. In short, this website is a place you can go to put up videos of the things you are doing, learning or those that you want to share. In short, you are communicating with others with video. If you have yet to check out the site, do so now. You will find everything from funny baby commercials to expertly done training seminars live on the site.
Creating an account here allows you to develop a strong way to communicate with those who would be your friends/clients. This site is not necessarily the best for all types of business. However, it is a great way to get the faces of the business on the web. It’s a reputation/brand maker, so register your name / URL.
Here are a few ways YouTube can be used:
- Allow a demonstration of how a product works.
- Create an informational lecture on the importance of the service and how it helps to the viewer.
- Create a scenario where the point is that the company’s services are useful. (slight selling, maybe)
- You, as the business professional should share tips and steps to accomplishing a task, such as how to use a certain software
- Utilize your YouTube.com account as a way to promote other people’s videos that relate indirectly or directly to the business.
- Consider paid advertising.
YouTube.com is an easy tool to use for any of these needs. Creating videos is as easy as using a video camera or a web cam. Don’t go overboard, make them simple, 1-3 minutes for most of them. Think about building a series (parts).
How to use Twitter – Microblogging.
Twitter is a very popular site and for good reason, it’s very simple to use, and has a wide reach. In short, users of the site sign up and then find other friends on the site by following them. Eventually, they can find other members on the network that are friends of friends and so on. Searches and keywords can also be used to find the right types of people to follow. However, Twitter is more than just about following others. It is about posting short, 140 character long messages updating the world on what you are doing, and what useful information you can share.
Twitter.com is another free network, so sign up. When you do, you can start building a following for the company. Your profile will have a link to the blog or website of the company so that when someone sees a post you create and they are interested, they can either respond, re-tweet or head over to the website to learn more or to otherwise interact with the business.
With Twitter, the following types of posts are going to help you to improve the following you have with others on Twitter, and there are millions of people using Twitter.
Remember, you get only 140 characters (not words) so keep it short and to the point.
Twitter posts may include:
- News pieces that relate to the company, a real estate agent may want to list sales figures for homes in the area.
- Conversational interactions with other Twitter users, this is a necessary and key step to having a good basis. Represent the company directly but talk with anyone using the site.
- Updates on blog posts, post a link and a catchy phrase to get people to the blog to read the latest posts.
- Informational bits that help the reader to learn more about the company.
- Newsworthy information, such as sales, discounts, promotional information.
- Any type of interaction with customers, including help, advice, information and guidance.
In short, you can use Twitter for any type of conversational and informal or formal commentary. However, when you are using the site, remember what the goal is: to get more customers. Therefore, use keywords in some of the Tweets and ensure that you are pointing back to the website with your posts. Use Tweetdeck.com to organize yourself.
How to use Facebook – Social Networking.
Twitter is similar to Facebook.com in that you can post status updates. But Facebook does not restrict the number of words you can use in the updates, is a much larger network, and has more interactivity features and tools. However, as a business marketer, it becomes more important for you to interact using fan pages. (We call them “brand pages”).
Fan pages on Facebook are short pages on the site dedicated to the business. You can create a fan page (‘tab’) for each marketing channel you have. Think of them as custom landing pages. Keep in mind that you will be looking to build a following on Facebook so make sure you get your audience to “like” your pages.
Facebook makes it very easy to set up such pages (check out some of the businesses who may be your client’s competition already using the site.) Once the page is set up (which takes minutes to do) you will then want to interact with those on Facebook to get them to follow you there. Oreo has a fun fanpage on Facebook.
Lots more things you can do on Facebook. You can include photos, news, for example. You can even pass your Twitter posts directly through to FB. You can write full articles and link them to Facebook. However, the goal here is not to interact in a sales like way. Rather, you are being social, listening, responding, communicating, answering questions and building relationships. That, in turn will build your client base in a more natural, organic – and non-forceful way.
How to grow your small business – BIG.
As a business owner, your goal is to build a successful business based on the knowledge and skills you have. Your customer service, your industry insights, your personality – your brand – it all counts up to a 100% total experience. You should set aside a few hours a week interacting with potential customers on the web through these sites. Share some of that insight, and share your personality as well. Don’t try to be too static.
However, the only way to have success in this way is to socialize with others on these sites. If you try to sell to them, you will not be successful. If you try to just throw up some links, and don’t engage or reply back – you are committing a “social media sin”.
Keep an eye out for other businesses, your competitors, and resources/websites that may offer something similar. Learn from their innovations, ways of marketing, and while it’s ok to borrow, don’t copy outright. And, if you are a local business – you can do well by using local keywords in posts and pages – and by interacting with the business’s potential in your own town or city.
All of this is done right from your home or office. You can try a tool like www.socialoomph.com to get your ‘tweets’ pre-scheduled as well. And, don’t forget that you can tweet and update from the field – right from your (i)phone.
Social media is likely to become the foundation of your empire on the web, so don’t take this lightly.
What have you done for your social media business, lately?
Related articles to social media for small business
- Brett King: If you are looking for ROI from Social Media? Think again… (huffingtonpost.com)
- 10 ways to create a social media dashboard (socialmedia.biz)
- Building Up a Small Business Through Social Media (mindjumpers.com)
- 50 Social Media Blogs Posts In 2010 Worth Bookmarking (simplyzesty.com)