When Facebook first started in 2004, it was a way for college students to connect to one another. Two years later, Twitter provided a way for people to share their day to day events with family and friends. Flash-forward to 2011 and these two social networks are being used as a platform for businesses to connect and engage and are being used as prominent search engines with their customers and their industry.
Social media marketing is especially effective for small businesses that do not necessarily have the finances or networks big brands do to connect to customers. According to The Constant Contact Report more and more small businesses are becoming savvier with social media and using it as a marketing tool. More small businesses are finding social media marketing effective. Currently 96 percent of businesses are using Facebook and 76 percent of businesses are using Twitter as platforms for social media marketing. Why so many? Small businesses are learning how social media marketing can help grow their customer relationships and improve their customer engagement as well as brand management monitoring. Social media marketing is easy, affordable, and an effective way to connect and engage with customers. But you have to take the time to learn to do it properly or it can be a daunting task.
Just because social media marketing is so user friendly does not mean that you cannot do it wrong. Many companies fail at effectively using social media as a business platform. So then what are some companies doing wrong?
1. Starting online activity without defined business objectives or goals
The main issue lies in brands inability to integrate their business objectives with their social media strategy. Many businesses simply try to build up a large group of followers without having any strategy on how to communicate and engage effectively with them. The content is not personalized to the brand and therefore ineffective to communicate to customers because they will not be able to engage in it.
2. Not understanding the difference between interruption and engagement
The instinctive approach for many companies is to push market and sell their service or product like they have for years over other mediums like radio, television, and print. However, social media platforms provide a way to shift communication to actually have conversations with consumers instead of just talking at them. Unfortunately, many companies fail to respond to customers engagements with only 60 percent of businesses responding to all comments on social media.
Though these 2 mistakes in social media marketing are common, they are completely avoidable. The key to social media success is having websites and social networks work together harmoniously. So how do you do this?
1. Business Intelligence
The first step any company needs is acquiring data that will then be used as a guide to shape their own strategies. This can be accomplished by consumer research, web analysis, and social media monitoring. By doing this the goal is to find out the ins and outs of social media marketing and see what is currently effective and trendy. Once you have acquired critical analysis of strategy and trends, the next step is to brand filter. This is an extremely important step because it allows you to put your own spin on your marketing. Although it is important to use popular techniques, you always want to keep true to your brand and customize for your customers.
2. Content Creation
Now that you have some ideas, it is time to finally put them into words. The key here is to say something important and design content people will actually care about. In order to do this you must develop customer personas and focus on your tone. Find your companies voice and balance between personal and professional as to create the most customer friendly content. Any content you post should be:
- Useful: content is easy for people to share
- Data-based: content can be used on multiple networking platforms (Facebook, YouTube, mobile, etc.)
- Brand Focused: content always promotes the brands position
- Interesting: content that others will want to share meaning it has emotion, information, and self expression.
- Distinctive: make content unique and do not settle for anything less than great.
3. Find Followers
Having great content does nothing if you do not establish a group of focused followers to read it. This step requires both offline and digital efforts to establish customer relationships. The best way to go about this is to integrate PR, email, paid media, partnerships, owned media, and maintain search visibility.
Once establishing a group of active followers the final step to social media success is actually interacting with your followers and monitoring the account discussions, messages and activity. Just because you have content that is brand focused and people looking at it does not mean you are successfully using social media. Without engagement, your followers will only look at your site once or twice to see what it has to offer and then move on. The key here is to keep posting interesting, focused content about your brand that your followers can respond to. A great technique to do this is to ask questions to your customers and then most importantly make sure you respond when they do, even it if is a simple “great” or “thank you”. Another simple technique to keep followers is to share posts from other users. This not only provides you with more content on your page, but also opens up your connections to new companies and their followers.
Now that you know the first steps to social media success, make your daily plan, specify time you will spend. Get on your computers and login to Facebook and Twitter and “Let’s get ready to post!” Oh and you are on twitter you can use a hash tag, we recommend #goodluck.
For more information and expert social media integration please contact us for a free evaluation.