Is Social Media Marketing a Necessary Evil?
After running your business the traditional way (brick and mortar), you caved and reluctantly joined the internet revolution. You created a website and wrote a blog, ran contests and giveaways, and gave away free content. And now you are told that you need to tweet and post on Facebook on a regular basis. This is not sitting well with you: it’s just one more time commitment for you, time which you believe will be best served elsewhere.
Consider these numbers:
- 98% of 18 to 24 year-olds use social media on a regular basis
- 82% of 55 to 64 year olds use social media in a typical month
- 75% of seniors use social media consistently … and these are the people who hadn’t even seen a computer till they were well in their adulthoods.
- PLUS: you can reach all these potential customers on a shoestring budget!
Feeling a little more interested in building a social media presence for your business now?
You are right, if you are not careful with your handling of social media marketing, even more so than the internet, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But you would be wrong in dismissing this tremendous asset to your company or service as a “huge waste of time”. In fact, with the following 7 valuable tips, you too can make your social media marketing more effective and efficient. Less effort, more ROI, what’s there not to like?
- Save time and effort with your company profile: You’ve already spent a lot of time and money designing a professional look for your company, don’t waste it by listing bland information on your social media profiles. Use those well-researched keywords and descriptions and fill out every field you can. The more information you give to your potential Twitter followers and Facebook fans, the more targeted hits you get. Use the same logo and usernames whenever possible, to brand yourself further. And always refer back to your site, where you ultimately have a whole array of goodies waiting to hook them.
- Utilize cross-advertising whenever possible: You can start by sending your website visitors to your social media accounts. The basic way to do this is to give them access to each of your accounts by prominently displaying their iconic logo with a call to action catchphrase like “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook”. If you are using WordPress for your website, it’s as simple as adding a Plugin (one of the nicer ones is the DigitalCortex’s Subscriptions Option, which lets you manipulate the size and color of the icons, and add on others like LinkedIn, Flickr, Google+ or Podcasting, as needed). Once you’ve got these in place, you can run your contests or giveaways on your social media accounts and send your website visitors there to increase your hits and exposure, and vice-versa.
- Write it once and disseminate it in many places: When you have a few accounts in place, don’t reinvent the wheel each time. There is no need to write completely different tweets or posts for every social media venue. Write a basic message or offer, decide a few key words to use in your description, and only slightly alter the description, if at all, then post them everywhere. (Hint: if you link your Twitter account to your page on Facebook, all you have to do is just tweet the message and your Facebook page will instantly publish your tweet). Since your customers are ultimately being referred to the same landing page on your website, the bulk of the work needs to get done just once.
- Know the social media etiquette: You do not have to come up with new content every single time. The 80/20 rule that applies to most social media platforms requires that you use 80% of your time interacting (answering questions, sharing) with others, and only 20% of your time promoting your business. If you stick to this rule, you will spend less time coming up with new messages, and have the added benefit of not coming across as a pushy-sales-pitch-obsessed social networker.
- Be consistent: You do need to contribute to your social media networking consistently; there is no way around this. It is vital to your exposure in that it is important in creating and maintaining relationships, thereby gaining the trust of your customers and the eventual business of your potential customers. If you drop out of sight for a while, you will have to exert much more effort to get back into the swing of things and rejoin the ongoing conversation.
- Stick to a daily schedule: I hate to admit this but there is such a thing as a “social media black hole”. Avoid it by determining upfront how much time you will commit to “doing the rounds” for your social media marketing and stick to it. If you have a limited time each day for this, then select two or three social networking sites (you can use Google Analytics to determine which sites send you the most visitors) and concentrate on them.
- Stay on top of the trends: There is nothing more off-putting then people who sound like they just rejoined the planet after a few years’ stint on Mars. Though you will sometimes find helpful people on social media sites willing to educate you on the latest trends, they are few and far between, so don’t rely on them. Do your homework first. To be quickly appraised of the latest happenings in your field sign up for daily Google Alerts to follow trends in your chosen topic, or check the status of a trend in real time on Hashtags.org. They are free and offer a wealth of information with an easy interface. Knowledge is power, and people will respond better to you when you are telling them something they don’t already know.
So how do you feel about social media networking now? Ready to tackle the biggest shares of your market with a little concentrated effort?