It’s nearly impossible to read about marketing recently and not hear some guru talking about social media and why your company needs to take advantage of it. Social media, networks and the tools behind them are a fantastic way to promote your business, connect with customers and drive traffic to your website. Like anything else, if you want to see results, you’re going to have to put in the time, effort and possibly money. More importantly, you need to get knowledgeable or hire someone to help you understand what it takes to use social media to grow your business. The bottom line is you need to have a strategy or plan of attack to make it happen.
The first thing you really need to understand is how social media works. I’d recommend learning all you can about social media websites that can help you. A few that come to mind are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Digg. Understand that not all social media sites are good for businesses. Likewise, learn about the various tools that surround social media, like blogging, RSS feeds, podcasts, viral video, user-generated news, widgets and wikis, just to name a few. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the lingo and various tools, but remember, you don’t need to use them all. Most importantly, realize that your social media marketing is only as good as your strategy or plan of attack, which we cover below. For example, many social media websites are specific to your industry and are a better resource than the more generic, large ones where you may get lost. A good example of a smaller social-networked website is ImageKind, a community for creating, buying and selling high-end framed artwork.
Time and Effort
Social media marketing isn’t like the old days where you simply buy some ad space and hope for the best. The objective behind social media is getting out there, joining websites that have similar interests with your business and partaking in the conversations. It’s an ongoing commitment that requires time and resources.
Plan of Attack
At the heart of successful social media marketing is strategy. I would offer these four areas to concentrate on:
Not unlike traditional marketing, your target audience is the key to a successful campaign. What social networks are your clients visiting? Do they read blogs and share in conversations? Are there industry specific websites? How about groups in Facebook or LinkedIn? Go to where your audience is and start a conversation.
Now that you know who you’re going after and where to market to them, what are your goals? Is it to drive traffic to your website? Or is it simply to get your company’s name out there for brand recognition? Concurrently, you must understand your audience and build goals that are realistic and possible. Knowing what your audience is looking for is fundamental in reaching your goals.
- Tools and Tactics:
Like we mentioned above, there are many social media tools and ways to engage and communicate with your customers and clients. Choose those that you believe will work best with your goals above. For example, maybe you’re a food company targeting teens. You might consider building a fun Facebook game that allows the audience to have a food fight with their favorite “branded” food products from your company.
Social media is most likely not your only marketing channel. At least it shouldn’t be. If possible, look at ways to integrate you social media marketing into your broader marketing plan. For us at Digiwize, we created our own Content Management System, called Brightegg, and built a social networked of designers around it to help grow it.
For some great resources on social media marketing, see below: