In a previous blog post describing what you can do to improve your chances of the browser searches finding your website (Search Results – Where Am I !?! ), I made only brief mention of creating your own social account to improve your web exposure. I thought I’d go a bit deeper into what that means.
Traditional Marketing Techniques
If you’ve had a business for awhile, say 5 years or more, the whole idea of marketing through social media may be a little more difficult to get your head around, especially if you’ve become pretty comfortable marketing your business all the “usual” ways: you’re in the yellow pages; you take out newspaper ads occasionally; maybe do a flyer; you have real nice business cards that “say it all.” Maybe you’re actually one of those people who’s a great salesperson just by having a good social-professional network and making connections that result in business.
If your business is doing well and you’re comfortable with your marketing and salesmanship, then you probably don’t need to read further. But I’m guessing that you’re here looking for some new ideas.
What Are Those Differences Again?
In another blog post (Website vs. Email Marketing vs. Social Media), I summarized the differences between the 3 main types of online platforms with the following generalizations:
- Website — In depth; most complete reference for your business, including contact information, products, services, organization information, location, company history or other interesting descriptions; web-wide exposure.
- Email Marketing – Timely, usually topical information, including (but not limited to) newsletters, press releases, announcements, specials and coupons; 2 pages or less is ideal; discrete audience (your customers plus subscribers).
- Social Media – Quick, frequent, “in the moment” messages, often with links for more information; audience can be anyone who’s interested.
So at this point you’re thinking: “I get the website. And whether or not I use email marketing, I understand the concept and reasons to use it. ‘Social media’? That’s Facebook, right? Why would I want to put my company on Facebook?”
Social Media Marketing
There are many social media applications such as FourSquare, Ning, Plaxo, Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Flickr, and more. For purposes of discussion, I’m going to focus on a few of the most widely used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Social media is your opportunity to get more personal with your audience. Let them get to know you and your business or organization beyond the formality of a web page. I’ll give you some examples of potential posts:
“Race 4 The Stars – 5K Run/Walk is this weekend! Don’t forget to register. Registrants automatically entered for drawing for new shoes!”(from a non-profit organization)
“Just tried a new fragrance for one of my traditionally-made soaps. I’m calling it: Café Vienna. Chocolate + cinnamon = mmmm ahhhh! It’ll be ready for orders next week.” (from a maker of handmade soaps)
“We’re happy to announce that we’ve outgrown our present location and will be moving into the new Midtown Plaza. Watch for our grand opening announcement here in 2 weeks.” (from a brick and mortar business)
“Sharing some pictures of our latest construction project in the Blue Haven residential development. This is a brand new design for us and it turned out great!” (from a general contractor)
If you also have a Twitter account, just abbreviate these posts to 140 characters or less.
I think of LinkedIn as being a little more “formal,” so with a little tweaking, you could use these updates there as well.
Using a little imagination, you could turn any of the 4 examples into a video clip.
A Couple of Do’s and Don’ts
Notice that none of these posts made a hard sell. It was just some interesting communication. Something that let you see the business or organization from the inside. Something to build interest, trust, and goodwill. So, DON’T “sell” on social.
One of the great things about all social media platforms is that your reader or viewer can easily “share” your post with their friends and family. That’s like free advertising! DO encourage them to do so.
The other great thing about posting on social media is you can get questions, conversations, and recommendations going for all to see, good or bad.
We hope you get comments such as:
“Participated last year; had a great time. All for a good cause.”
“What time does the race start?”
“I love chocolate and cinnamon! I’m ready to order.”
DO monitor your social sites and respond appropriately to comments and questions. Remember to show your appreciation for your followers and supporters.
But you could also get something like:
“I did Race 4 the Stars last year and it was totally disorganized. No fun.”
As often as you can, resolve a situation like this in full public view. Don’t try to ignore it. In this case, you could respond with:
“I’m sorry your experience was not ideal last year. We didn’t anticipate the number of registrants we got. This year we have more trained volunteers and expect things to go more smoothly.”
Or, to take it off-line:
“I’m sorry your experience was not ideal last year. I’d like to make the necessary corrections for this year’s race. Please give me a call (phone number) or drop me a line (email address) with your suggestions.”
Ok. You get the idea.
Where Do I Start?
There’s a LOT of information (really! A lot!) about using social media for networking and marketing. A good place to start is the Social Media Quickstarter site. And, guess what. They also have a Facebook page. “Like” it, “Share” it, and offer your own comments.
Here’s another opportunity for you to participate in the social media network. Blogs can also be social. What are your thoughts and experiences, good or bad, with social media? Leave your comments below.