According to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 78% of marketers saw increased traffic with just six hours a week invested in social media. Social Media Examiner
Social Networking is a major game changer and it’s here to stay. The Internet has fundamentally changed how people find and share information. The days when all you needed was a really big Yellow Page Ad and a little networking here and there are fading quickly, if not already a thing of the past. With the Internet as our “office space” and playground now, we have the ability to connect with potential clients, business partners, vendors … you name it, no matter where they are in the world, quicker, faster and better than ever before.
Why Engage In Social Networking?
- Social media allows you to learn more about your customers.
- It provides an easy platform for your customers to give you feedback, make requests and offer suggestions.
- When used correctly, it peels back the layers of your business and allows potential clients/customers to see you.
- It increases visibility: Out of sight out of mind. NOT being online and engaged is not an option anymore because your competition is doing it, and doing it well.
- It provides greater acess to a broader audience and the ability to connect with potential customers beyond the boundaries of your community, state and even country!
- To grow your business, gain customers, increase profits.
Social Networking can take your customer service efforts to the next level because it …
- Puts a “face” behind your business.
- Allows you to listen to what customers are saying.
- Enables you to proactively engage with prospects and customers with a two-way conversation.
- Provides additional product-related content on whatever product or service is relevant that month, week or even day.
- Gives you the ability to gain credibility and align yourself as a “go to” company/person in your industry.
The Raw and Real Facts of Social Networking:
- Your customers are talking about you on the Internet and it’s happening whether you like it or not. Anyone with an internet connection, a smart phone or a tablet can make their opinions known and comment on anything and everything. Ignoring that fact is not an option any more.
- Your reputation is online and on-the-line.
- You have the ability to reach customers all over the world, no matter where you are geographically – in real-time.
- It is easier now than ever to find common ground with potential clients and customers, and accelerates your ability to communicate with them about every facet of your business.
- Social networking provides individual platforms to build awareness of your brand, your business, and yourself, from which you could potentially profit.
A Social Media Checklist for Small Businesses:
When you’re starting out in social media, it’s best to focus your objectives on something you can control: your behavior. Create objectives that guide your online behavior and watch how your community responds. Over time, you can fine-tune your actions so you can get the best responses from your community. – Social Media Examiner.
THE WHAT (Tactics)
- Set up Google Alerts to monitor both your personal and business brands.
- Claim your personal and business URLs and business usernames on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Gmail.
- If you market locally, register your business with Google Places.
- Implement calls to action:
– Add your social media links to all print media (Find us on Facebook!)
– Add your social media links to your email signatures.
– Add your social media icons and links to your existing website and blog.
– Send out a press release, newsletter, or simple email to your database.
- Build your team:
Choose a champion or representative to be the face of your company and manage the integration of your social media marketing strategy with your company mission, current marketing objectives, and your sales process. If you are the business owner, this might be you. You might also choose to work with a virtual support team to handle this for you.
Start by posting regularly. There are many ways to communicate with friends and contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. On Facebook, members can post a link to a website, a photo or graphic or a video. This communication is instant and it’s public. When posting occurs on a social networking business page, it automatically gives the business more exposure within the social networking community and on search engines. A social media company should establish a strategy and offer a business a weekly plan for posting to accounts. If the objective is to drive more traffic through a website, then links back to the website may be posted. If the business is promoting specials or providing Internet coupons, then these offers may be posted to accounts. Content should always be reviewed by the business owner for accuracy and to make sure their “voice” is always captured.
- Connect with other websites or blogs that have something in common with your business.
Having clear and measurable objectives for your entry into social media is important to your success. Be very specific. Being on Facebook for the sake of being on Facebook doesn’t cut it. Increasing brand awareness or sales, enhancing customer service, or engaging customers or prospects in a dialog to better understand their expectations are all great starting points.
Things to Remember:
Social media needs to be thought of in terms of a two-way conversation, not a “here are some new places I can blast my links” platform. Too often companies rely on Social Media as another advertising channel. On Twitter, LinkedIn and if you are using a personal Facebook page, always remember the 80/20 rule. Your tweets and posts should be 80% personal/fun interaction to 20% sales or marketing. Social media is all about relationship building, so in reality, it’s everything from a conversation forum to a help desk to a water cooler. So as you enter social media in 2013, get out there and have fun … interact and build build relationships!