As the market determines how social media will ultimately impact businesses, you should be positioning your company to take advantage of this new wave of advertising. Depending upon your marketing strategy, you may decide to just test the waters or jump in with both feet. Either way, develop a marketing plan for your social media endeavors. Be sure that you have a policy for anyone (even the owner) that participates in online conversation. Remember, you want to promote a positive corporate image and attract high quality customers and employees.
At our seminars on social media, we present an overview of how to get started in social media. We concentrate on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blogging as these are popular, fast-growth platforms that look like they are here to stay.
Social media takes time. Beginners spend approximately 2 hours a week. After a few months, the amount of time spent jumps to about 10 hours a week. Those who actively practice social media marketing, commit 20 hours a week or more to keeping up with their social media activities. As with any initiative before you start, make sure you can devote the time and energy needed to have a consistent presence. Starting small with steady growth is preferable to a big splash then fizzling out.
Many people are struggling with an effective social media strategy and evaluating the social media return-on-investment. There are some who claim you can make money with social media, but quantifying the revenue has been difficult. For most, social media is a model for positive promotion, reputation monitoring and networking. Remember, social media is an extension of the more traditional forms of networking. So approach your social media communications with the same integrity and etiquette that you would use in face-to-face exchanges.
LinkedIn – A business-oriented social media site used for networking. You can create your personal profile and make a company page. You approve people that want to link to you and send invitations to others to link. Once linked, you get notification on posts, groups, updates and other details about your connections. LinkedIn is powerful for connecting to business professionals, researching companies and participating in industry and topical groups. You can send your Facebook, Twitter, Blog and other posts directly to your LinkedIn page
Facebook – Originally used as a social networking site for college students, Facebook has gained acceptance and influence for all ages. On Facebook, it is easy to post pictures, videos and personal information. Users connect by posting information on walls. You have to accept invitations from friends and choose what information to share. Facebook accounts are created by an individual, but you can make a company page linked to your personal account to promote your company. Use Facebook ads to promote your company by designing an ad and choosing the demographics that will view the ads. Ads can be pay-per-impression or pay-per-click. The fasting growing Facebook demographic is women over 55 years of age.
Twitter – A social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-bases posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers. Find followers that are interested in your industry, products or services. Follow those who tweet information of interest or value. Use tweets to drive followers to your blog or other social media sites. Send tweets on a variety of topics, but don’t just tweet advertisements or your followers will dwindle.
YouTube – A video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals but some media corporations offer content. Users can watch the videos and registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos. Use YouTube to upload video blogs, interview, tutorials and presentation to name a few. YouTube content can be used on your website or blog to provide information through video. Some markets prefer video and recording demonstrations, instructions and interviews can be a powerful addition to the printed word. Photos can be uploaded to YouTube, set to music and made into a video with captions. On your YouTube account you can monitor how many views each video has received and allow viewers to leave comments.
Blogging – Blog comes from the term web log. A business blog is a website with regular entries of information, commentary, and events. Blogs can be maintained by a single individual or group. There are many group blogs on broad topics of interest Blogs are mainly text, but often add graphics, music or video for meaning and content. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Most blogs allow readers to leave comments in an interactive format, but it is important that comments should be reviewed before being posted to your business blog. Blogs should be professional and well written. Your posts should be used to establish your expertise in an industry or on a topic. Use other social media sites to drive users to your blog where you can explore topics more deeply. Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.
Want to try social media, but don’t know where to start?
Try LinkedIn first. It’s easy to get started, find connections and add content.
Then try Facebook. It’s a bit more complicated, but worth the effort. Once you get your personal page and some friends, make a company page and suggest it to your friends.
Now you’re ready for Twitter. Set up your account and tweet once or twice a day. Remember to make your tweets interesting and minimize advertisement.
Now start blogging! Use the other sites to drive traffic to your blog. Create content that can also be used on your social media sites, web pages and newsletters.
Ms. Hester is the CEO of LAN Systems which provides IT solutions in the Greater Metro Atlanta Area. LAN Systems is dedicated to providing business technology that works for people. In 2004, Mary founded Intelligent System Solutions, Inc. (ISS) which provides high-tech consulting, sales and service to utility customers. Mary brings extensive experience managing a support and service group renowned for its “Best in the Industry” rating and standards. She is an expert in customer loyalty and retention. She has designed and delivered numerous training courses and workshops on a variety of topics.