December 7, 2012 | By Celia
Is Social Media Right for Your Business?Posted in: Social Media
If you haven't considered social media (or online networking) as a means to marketing your business, you should. For one thing, it creates a cost-effective opportunity to authentically connect with current and prospective customers. It also presents opportunities to network with peers and vendors. Of course, social media isn't the end all be all to marketing, but it is an essential component to any successful marketing mix.
Before you decide if social media is right for your business, you need to first do a little research. Observe the conversations your current and potential customers are having on social networking sites like Twitter and on blog sites. You can do this by first searching for words specific to your industry / product / service with Twitter's search feature and you can find blog posts from competitors, vendors and your current and potential customers with searches through Google Blog Search. If you find active conversations and blog posts that are relevant to you this is a clear indicator that you need to be involved in these conversations and start making connections.
Now that you know social media is right for you, it's time to begin to implement these steps:
- Set up your Twitter and Facebook accounts for your business. Make sure you select a photo of you or a photo that is relevant to your business for your profile picture, and create a short and interesting bio. People check your bio to find out if you have common interests and to see if you share valuable information.
- Develop a strategy and a plan for how you are going to gain a presence and connect with people. You need to decide from the very beginning what your message is - information on maintaining roofs, healthy food facts, sharing photos and stories about home decor. You can also share other business or personal passions and throw in tasteful humor. Don't forget, things you say are a reflection of your business, so don't say anything you'll regret later.
- Frequently visit relevant blog posts and began to leave comments
- Find people that interest you and start conversations, ask questions and share information. Watch what people are saying, respond to their messages, and ask them how they are doing. This creates a connection with them and it will make you more memorable. Do this consistently and you will find that it becomes intuitive, and with a bit of time, your connections will grow.
- Don't have the intention of sending out constant sales messages. This will turn people off and it will be ignored. Instead provide links back to your site or blog post that allows people to learn more about you and your business.
- Implement social media tools that will help you track the effectiveness of your tweets (Twitter) and will help you keep track of all the people you follow. Try free web applications like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. There are also several iPhone and Blackberry apps that are easy to use. Social media doesn't have to be burdensome. If used effectively you can plan and incorporate tools that will make this initiative more manageable and convenient for you.
Remember, online relationships take time. Connections and business transactions are made through genuine conversations and by sharing helpful ideas. It's okay for social networking to seem overwhelming at first. Just ease into it and we promise it will get easier and will even be fun - you just have to start somewhere. If you need help there are many online resources and consultants that can help you get started.
Finally, if you are still undecided, here is something else to consider: a recent study found that 80% of businesses use social media and 62% of executives are familiar with or already use Twitter. These executives use social media marketing as a means to build awareness about their brands and new product/service offerings, and to gain new customers and connect with existing ones. In addition, marketers currently spend 3.5% of their budgets on social media, and that number is expected to grow to 6.1% in the next year and 13.7% in the next five years. We're not sharing these stats so you can simply jump on the bandwagon, we're telling you this so you can see the immense possibilities of finding connections on any level.
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