These are frequent comments we hear from clients and prospective clients. Most of them have a reasonable knowledge of the web and how their Web site is currently adding to their Social Media Importance in Business and their presence in the marketplace. However, they are at odds to understand how joining these other applications will add to their business or if it will just end up as duplication to the same market segment.
We usually discuss with clients how they wouldn’t just hire a workforce that is clones of the boss or a very few personality types. A great workforce is comprised of a wide mix of ages, skills and experience levels, varying ethnic origins, personality types, etc. – to reflect what we see in wider society. That includes having staff who challenge us – in positive ways – so that we keep current and fresh with what’s happening in the wider world.
Likewise, the marketing mix of any great company needs to reflect what is happening in wider society. Traditional marketing methods just aren’t enough in today’s world.
The following is an overview of some of the more widely known Social Media sites and how they could be used to promote a business:
Social Media Importance in Business
One of the earlier social media sites having been around since 2004. It has since been more than overtaken by Facebook however it still has a place in the market and may reach people who have never converted to Facebook or other sites.
Based on the demographics of MySpace users this could be an appropriate tool if your business is in music, film, entertainment, educational programs, sports groups and other organizations targeting the under 25 market.
If you create a MySpace page, ensure you have consistency of image by replicating the appearance of your website as closely as possible. However, if you are trying to attract a younger audience then consider a different layout to your Web site to make your MySpace page more appealing, add music, video, activity stream, or modify the images used.
Ensure that you incorporate:
• Your logo.
• Your marketing tag.
• A link to your Web site.
• Standard contact information to handle enquiries.
Bear in mind that you can’t sell directly from MySpace but you can link it to your web site or a third-party store or site for e-commerce. You can also cross-promote your MySpace page on all your other social media efforts and vice versa.
As a social media site Facebook appeals to all age groups and part of that appeal is that your Page doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. You can customize it with photos, videos, applications – such as polls – that personalize and enhance your profile.
In addition to setting up a business page you can promote your Facebook presence with adverts – you have probably seen the ads in the right hand column if you have ever used Facebook before. The whole purpose of a business Facebook page is to have visitors who ‘like’ the page as opposed to a personal page where you receive and accept or refuse ‘friend’ requests.
You should also link your Facebook page to Twitter because Facebook can have more detailed information on it such as photos and videos.
You have numerous ways to interact with potential clients on Facebook such as:
• Putting interesting posts on your wall.
• Images and videos.
• Responding to a thread of comments from a post on your business page.
The key with information posts is that it should be useful and not a blatant advertisement. It is better to leave a link to your Web site page so that people can find more information on your product or services there.
If you have a Web site or blog, you can add a Facebook badge to your site to help cross-promote your Facebook business page and your Social Media Importance in Business.
Many businesses are using Facebook as a second home page – one that is used to drive people who like your business to your Web site. Therefore it is vital to optimize your Facebook page for Search Engine Optimization – see the www.mindiam.com Web site for more info if you are unsure of how SEO works.
Remember, when creating a Facebook business page with the intent of marketing your business, your initial goal is to find people to ‘like’ your page. Then by engaging in conversation with them you have initiated a strategy to grow a steady base of fans that follow your page as you make further relevant posts.
You can also increase your Social Media Importance in Business by advertising, promoting your page from your Web site and other online media, or by creating a group. One advantage here is that you can create discussions and generate more interest quickly.
A Facebook group is where people who are interested in the topic of the group join and follow it. Remember, a group creates an additional entity within Facebook – so you increase your chances of people finding you.
Events such as trade shows, speeches or demonstrations can also be promoted from your Facebook group or business page.
If you want to find out what your ‘fans’ think of a particular piece of information you can create a Facebook poll. You can also create custom tabs on your Facebook business page – such as adding copy from your blog, embedding hosted videos – or creating a custom URL for your fan page once you have more than 25 fans. A custom URL is like a form of branding and can even be added to your e-mail signature or be used with your other social media.
The use of Analytics can also help with understanding the best source of traffic and effectiveness to your business.
The biggest advantage of Twitter is that you can instantly post information to people following you. The disadvantage is that you are limited to a maximum of 140 characters.
As a business, you can use the power of Twitter to attract potential clients. However, you have to be prepared to work it – posting comments that people want to read. If you attract enough followers, they share (retweet) your comments with people who are following them. This is how your base of followers starts to grow. You also need to plan your marketing campaign and create quality posts that appeal to your followers.
Twitter can be a useful tool to facilitate good customer relations and you shouldn’t be afraid to address complaints or negative feedback so that followers can see how proactive your business is in addressing issues.
A good idea is to follow other businesses to start with so that you gain an understanding of how Twitter works and how you could see it fitting in as a part of your marketing strategy.
Bearing in mind that with Twitter your messages are going direct to followers, this is a much more effective form of marketing than methods such as telemarketing, TV ads, e-mail promotions that are going to a wide number of people who have no say over receiving your message or not.
Because of the speed of Twitter it is a very useful tool for activities such as:
• Giving away samples.
• Creating a contest or competition.
• Announcing new products or services.
• Promoting online events.
• Allowing potential customers to ask questions.
You can also find people who are looking for information about your product or service using the Twitter search engine by:
1: Navigate to http://searchtwitter.com (click on Advanced Search).
2: Enter the name of your profession in the All These Words text box.
3: Click Search.
4: Review the tweets to look for potential clients.
5: If a potential client, click Follow.
When using Twitter, remember that your comments can be found with searches through search engines such as Google or Bing – therefore are not private, unless you send as a Direct Message.
You can customize your Twitter page, so that you can create something unique or follow a similar theme to your printed material, Web site, Facebook page, etc.
You can also use Twitter to draw attention to your Facebook fan page, your blog and your Web site so that your social media outlets feed off each other.
As with Facebook, the use of Analytics can also help with understanding the best source of traffic and effectiveness to your business.
This network is designed for when you run a business that relies on other businesses for clients, or when you want to network with other professionals – as opposed to many sites where they are aimed more as business-to-consumer contact.
Many business owners use LinkedIn in conjunction with other social media outlets, such as twitter and Facebook.
It has a more utilitarian look and feel to the other sites already covered, but bear in mind it is really just aimed as a networking tool. You need to make sure status information is always kept up to date as essentially it presents as an online Resume.
Contact is essentially by e-mail notifications whenever someone invites you to connect with them, sends you a message, or posts a note on a group that you belong to.
Other mediums to promote your Social Media Importance in Business
Blogs, Podcasts and Vlogs
A weblog or blog is an ideal is an ideal format to use to promote your company. Search engines rank sites with blogs higher than sites without blogs – because every blog is like a magazine article with current and relevant information. However, you must take the time to update it frequently.
Blogs are simple to set up and maintain and can be optimized for search engines through the use of different keywords – relevant to each blog.
If you target customers don’t have the time to read blog posts then another option is the use of Podcasts – the equivalent of an Internet TV or Radio broadcast.
Vlogging is where you create a series of videos to promote a product, service, or yourself – effectively a video blog. They can also be used for educational video purposes for employees – useful if you have multiple locations in your business.
In a future blog we will cover the usefulness of Analytics as it has huge ramifications for any business in analysing performance and statistics for your Web site, social media marketing and other online marketing efforts so that you can better understand customer behaviour and improve results. Therefore Analytics is worthy of a further blog in its own right.
However, we hope to have demonstrated to you above that social media is a series of online services that facilitate two-way communication and content sharing – and can become a highly effective component of your businesses marketing strategy.
You need to select – and use efficiently – the social media networks that best suit your business and be open to using more than one to get the best results. Remember that social media is a long-term marketing strategy so needs to have a correct investment of time and effort given to it.