Social Media is quickly becoming the best way small businesses can market to their consumers. In this post I will discuss some of the key players in the social media game and how to begin using them for your business. There is a very important preliminary step that needs to be taken before diving into these social networking platforms. Come up with a marketing plan just as you would with your print advertising. Think about goals, desired outcome and ways to measure your success through this new marketing avenue. If you have a clear goal or strategy in mind then moving forward will make more sense.
The first on my list is Facebook. People are checking Facebook as much as they are checking email. This means that you have great opportunity to connect with your social network in real time. Facebook provides you a place to ask questions, share ideas, handle complaints, build your brand authority and listen to your customers or “fans”. You can setup a business page or group which will be different from your personal page. Here you will be able to discuss your company concept, lead people back to your website, pull in your blog posts, share photos and engage your customers. Make sure you maintain your branding through your avatar and photos to maintain your brand consistency. Adding in “applications”, such as Social RSS, will allow you to pull in other media so dig around and find some useful tools that make keeping up with your social profiles much easier.
The second big dog on the list is Twitter. To Tweet or not to Tweet. That is the question. To truly leverage Twitter, you’ll want to learn and use a few more advanced tools. This includes desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck , Seesmic , and Tweetie . Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more control over your Twitter strategy than you’ll have on the Twitter website as well as letting you update and engage your followers much quicker and easier. These third party applications will allow you to group followers and perform specific searches to find topics of interest. You can also monitor what your competition is up to. Utilize the ability to alter your Twitter design to reflect your brand always maintaining that synergy. Remember, when you are using Twitter think of it like a party or social gathering. You wouldn’t just walk up to people and spitting out what it is that you want them to buy or hire you for. Social media is about being “SOCIAL”. Keep your blatant advertising to a minimum and engage people with similar interests to boost your fan base. Developing these relationships is what will bring them back.
LinkedIn is the third social platform of choice. Here you can make professional connections, participate in interest groups where you can engage other LinkedIn users as well as drive visitors back to your website. You can post your blog articles to your LinkedIn profile automatically which makes keeping fresh information out there much easier. To fully capitalize on this social platform make sure your profile is completely filled out as well as having some good recommendations available for visitors to read.
Utilize your social platforms to drive visitors, consumers, followers and fans back to your “hub” or your website. Your website is where you really sell your brand and tell the whole story.