By Lou Amico
Every day, you, your customers, and your employees come into contact with some form of social media. According to the Nielson Company Internet and Social Media Insights report, 22 percent of time spent online is devoted to social networking sites. Facebook, the most popular social networking site, has over 500 million users from ages 13 to over 55, with the fastest growing demographic being women over age 55. Social media can no longer be ignored and must be a critical part of your marketing plan. Plus, social media is great for building your brand further on the Internet. Your customers use social media, but is your business making the most of social media opportunities?
1. One size does not fit all.
A multitude of social media sites exist. The most popular sites include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and MySpace. Your marketing approach should not be the same for all social media sites, nor may all make sense for your business. Determine which site(s) provides the most value to your business and which one fits your target audience (i.e. customers) best.
2. Invest the time and resources to use social media correctly.
Social media is real-time; not using social media correctly can actually hurt your business. It’s important that you invest the time to create a social media plan that outlines your target audience, content goals and strategy. When your potential customers visit your social media page they should find value. Lack of information or too much un-relatable content can cause a negative first impression.
3. Understand what your customers and potential customers want from you.
Whether you are in the business of selling information, products or services, social networking has a place in your marketing plan. Thanks to share features, social media has the ability to greatly enhance and promote your message and promotions. Don’t be afraid to ask your fans what they’d like to see. Is it more promotions, notifications of sales, tips, how-to’s, etc.? Create a plan for your content, but don’t be afraid to tweak it throughout the year based on feedback from your fans and customers.
4. Research other businesses using social media.
A number of social media applications exist that can be used to customize your social media page further. Facebook has numerous to choose from. Social Media Examiner published a helpful blog post on the top 75 apps for enhancing your Facebook page. Consider the following questions when researching how other social media can benefit your business: What social media pages do you visit most often? What do you like about them? What features do they offer that make sense for your business?
5. Use social media to interact with your audience.
Where social media differs from traditional marketing efforts is its ability to develop stronger relationships with your customers. Social media is not a tool for high pressure sales. Show your value by offering value. Encourage interaction with your fans by asking questions and don’t hesitate to ask your fans to “like” or “share” content you post. Make sure someone is monitoring your social media regularly and frequently so that questions and fan posts can be recognized and responded to in a timely manner.
Social media is here to stay and will continue to evolve. Your marketing plan should evolve too. Social media helps create links and content online, and ultimately helps improve search engine rankings. It’s a powerful tool that helps you connect with your customers and be part of the conversation. Is your business effectively joining the conversation?
Lou Amico is founder and president of L.A. Management Company, a website development, online marketing and video production firm. He can be reached at (704) 560-6274 or visit www.lamanagementco.com for more information.