Social media is new and interesting, yet many are dubious about its ability to build business. There are a multitude of case studies in which social media have helped businesses influence or reverse public opinions by being a part of the conversation.
When used as part of an integrated marketing plan, social media tools can indeed be a powerful way to connect with and influence your target audience. But slapping together a Facebook page or blogging every few weeks is not enough and does not constitute a social media plan. These five keys to utilizing social media can turn these digital tools from time-wasters to powerful parts of your marketing strategy.
- Choose your weapons carefully. Your target audience determines your tools. To start, meet your audience where they already gather. There are a plethora of niche chatroom sites and blogs where you can go to be part of already-existing conversations. You must also remain consistent with your image, so be thoughtful in how you portray your brand through these mediums – don’t lose its look and feel.
- Where do you think you’re going? Likewise, your message is stronger when you communicate frequently–meaning a minimum of once a week. Social media is constantly changing; conversations move quickly and attention spans are short. Leaving the same blog post up for longer than a week will bore your readers and they will stop following. Inversely, posting more frequently can trigger your following to grow more rapidly.
- Let them have their cake and eat it, too. In order to have followers, you need to offer them options. The most common ways to do this is through RSS (real simple syndication) feeds and e-mail subscription options. To make it easy for your audience to share your content, you can also offer chicklets for bookmarking sites (a small image of a logo for a Web site that allows users to connect directly to the site and save information from anywhere on the Web in a single account through it).
- It’s time for your close-up. Social media forums are a great place to loosen up a little and show your individual personality, even while representing the brand. An appropriate dose of feeling, opinion and information about the representative’s personal life can go a long way in developing relationships with your audience. This connection motivates readers to continue to follow your online content, seek it out in additional sources online and elsewhere, and it builds loyalty to the brand.
- Back to square one. Although the styles and strategies of social media and traditional elements of your campaign may be very different, it is critical that they are sending the same underlying message. A significant part of social media’s influence is in its repetition and ability to interact with the target audience about their reactions to the message. If the message is not consistent, this power is lost and the campaign instead causes confusion about brand identity.
These principles will help keep you on the right track for social media marketing success. There are many additional sources and experts available that can take you further in your exploration of social media. For true beginners, a great place to start iswww.mashable.com. A simple search will bring up dozens of social media experts whom you can follow on their blogs, Twitter feeds and much more. If you still are unsure, call a marketing agency that offers social media services for a consultation and strategy assessment. These specialists can get your social media campaign off to a strong start and keep your campaign focused.