The Social Media Hype
I might be stating the obvious here, but if you’re a business owner, an Internet Marketer, a blog owner or even an individual, it is extremely important to market yourself online, and it would be downright foolish to not have a proper marketing strategy in place to do so.
Social mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Youtube StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, and more recently Pinterest, boast more than a billion active users combined, and get millions upon millions of users daily. I could write a few stats to further my point, but I strongly recommend reading this Social Media Marketing Report, published in 2011.
Goes without saying but these mediums are a great way to market your brand or your product (or even yourself!) and generate some amazing referral traffic easily. And this is precisely what we are now seeing happen.
Companies, organizations, multinationals, conglomerates, entrepreneurs, startups and just about everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon, and integrating social media into their marketing strategy, and to great effect as well. The results in terms of exposure, sales and revenues have been no less than staggering for some!
And best of all, almost all of these mediums are totally free to use, and are therefore free sources to market products and services and generate traffic.
Why Social Media?
As internet proliferation increases worldwide in developed and developing countries alike, more and more people are relying on the internet to connect with products, services and brands. Geographical boundaries are now no more, and it is now possible to have a much more global presence without any significant effort.
According to the abovementioned report, 78% of marketers saw an increase in traffic by investing just 6 hours-a-week in social media – a pretty good ROI I have to say, and all the more reason for any business to create a strong brand presence on social mediums.
Some of the larger companies already have a very strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and G+ and have used these mediums to change how they market, advertise and sell. Others are using the likes of LinkedIn to search for and recruit quality human resource.
If you or your company already has a strong presence on social mediums, you might want to stick around to see if you’re missing out on something, or whether your strategy really is as good and effective as you think it might be.
If however you don’t have a social marketing strategy in place, well you’re missing out, big time. If you’re apprehensive about whether it is worth your time or not, or if investing your time in something that probably won’t be around forever is really worth it, well, adapting to change is what defines a smart businessman!
Why a Social Media Strategy
It is also important to have a clear vision and direction, instead of being blindly pulled in all directions. Vision and direction help you maintain focus, eliminate time and effort wastage, when you have a crystal-clear vision, it is much easier for you to grab an opportunity when one presents itself.
Questions to Ask Before Starting Off
But before you set about with devising your social media strategy, it is important that you ask yourself a few questions, like any good marketer worth his salt would:
- What is your target market? Who are the potential customers that you want to target?
- Does your customer and people in your market use social media?
- What is your sales pitch? Shouldn’t be longer than a single sentence.
- Why do you want to develop a social media marketing strategy? What’s the point? Is it increasing sales or leads, spreading awareness, creating a buzz, driving traffic to your blog or website, generating hype or building trust and loyalty for your brand?
- What is it that defines you and your brand, and sets you apart from everyone else? What is your unique selling point?
- How will you be able to connect with your customers through social media? How will you be more human, especially if you’re a big organization?
- How will you measure your social media success? What criteria and metrics will you use?
Developing an Effective Social Media Strategy
I cannot even begin to stress how important it is to develop a proper social media strategy before you start using the tools. Luckily, developing a strategy is not hard at all, and the following points illustrate exactly how it can be done:
- Start small. Choose one or two of the most popular networks that you think would be relevant to your business as well. Facebook, for instance, could be a good place to start since it offers a lot of options (pages, groups, profiles, etc.).
- Spread the word. You need to get the word out, so advertise your online presence like you would market any of your other products. Use offline as well as online mediums of marketing.
- Be human! This is extremely important. Connect with people, engage and network with your audience. Be part of conversations, Twitter trends, wallposts, discussions, etc. Humanize your brand and let your audience get in touch with the employees. Social mediums are the perfect way to do this!
- Have a pitch. Elevator pitches are outdated. Keep it short and precise.
- All your updates, tweets, posts and videos should have a point and a purpose – whether it is promoting a product or connecting with your customers.
- Demographics are important. Know your audience, and target your product accordingly – just like you would do with other forms of marketing.
- Devise a plan – with daily, weekly, monthly and/or long term targets which need to be met. This could include things like what tools to focus on, the amount of time to spend and how to promote your products online.
- Set milestones and targets. It is important to measure your success (or failure). From simple metrics (such as likes, followers, etc.) to looking at various statistics and trends such as Facebook Insights. You can measure blog post hits, subscribers, Twitter retweets or mentions, Facebook fans and comments, Diggs and Stumbles, Youtube subscribers and views, CTR and inbound traffic.
- Set responsibilities. Being an active part of the social media efforts should be the job of everyone in the organization. Include this in job descriptions if you have to!
- Ask yourself this: what’s in it for my customers? Make it worth their time, and provide them with value.
- Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, adapt and change like any smart human being would. Look at what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to test and experiment at will. Look at trends, stats and metrics. And then improve your efforts.
Not an exhaustive list, but feel free to add to this in the comments section below!
Which Social Mediums to Choose?
This should be a good start, in order to determine which social mediums you should start from.
Usually, Facebook is a good place to start. If you sell something, doing video reviews on Youtube could be a good idea as well.