Social media isn’t a silver bullet. It’s not even necessarily a smart place to put tons of your business resources. Here’s what social media is: a cheap and personal way to connect with a slice of your customer base. That’s it. Sorry to burst any social-media consultants’ bubbles out there.
When done well, social-media networking can be an innovative, low-cost way to connect with customers, engage them in a conversation, and develop their loyalty. When done poorly, social media is just another opportunity to turn people off. Before you send your next tweet, post on any wall, or StumbleUpon anything, consider these five guidelines for social media and your business.
1. Audience: If you build it, sales will come. The only goal of any social-media initiative should be to build audience. That’s the only metric worth monitoring in the beginning. The more people in your network, the more eyeballs that see your message, the better your chances of converting those eyeballs to sales. There are many ways to build an audience. Providing engaging content related to your business or even offering deals and specials only available on social media are great ways to start. Just make sure every social-media interaction has the goal of building your audience.
Socialnomics1 has a handy updated list of social media and the number of users. Take a look and see where your customers are.
And check out the comprehensive list from Mark Hendrickson at TechCrunch2 of some of the software available to help you begin amassing your following.
2. Understand SEO. SEO, or search-engine optimization, is a fancy way of saying this: Google is looking for quality, relevant content for its users, so give it to Google and everyone will do just fine. There are certainly tricks of the trade both on the technical side and the content side of your social and online media to goose your Google search ranking.
Neal Rodriguez wrote an excellent primer on SEO for the Forbes3 blog, and he included links to Google tools to help get you started.
The best thing you can do for your business is pick two or three keywords relevant to your business and use them as often as you can on your site and in your social media. For instance, if you run a dry-cleaning business, you want to add as much content to your site that allows you to use the phrase “dry cleaner.” Google will recognize your site as a highly relevant spot for information on “dry cleaner” and move you up in the rankings accordingly.
Just like with your audience, the more quality content you give Google, the more love you’ll get in return.
3. People really just want to talk about themselves. Just like in real life, people on social media are really just looking for information about themselves. Fair enough. Give it to them. If you run a produce-delivery service, look for people in your area talking about their latest diets and let them know how easy your service can make their lives. Run a bike-repair shop? Look up and strike up conversations with your local bike clubs. Seek out your potential customers and let them know how you can help. And with social media, you can save the cost of the stamp or phone call.
Here’s an anecdote about hospital social media’s relationship to user engagement and the need to shift from a “me” to a “we” perspective.
4. It’s easy and inexpensive to be successful on social media. You don’t have to turn into a 15-year-old girl tapping away the hours on her smartphone to be successful with social media. It’s far better to do less but make it great. If you bombard your followers and friends with an endless stream of junk, you’ll lose them. Plan your messaging ahead and stick to one or two interactions per day. What’s more important than the number of interactions per day is how consistent your messaging is over the long haul.
There are plenty of tools that can help you schedule and organize all your social-media interactions and automate the posting process. TweetDeck4 and HootSuite5 are two popular platforms.
Also, remember to share other friends’ and followers’ information. Make a habit of sharing and retweeting other people’s content, too. More often than not, they’ll return the favor.
5. Timing matters. Friday at 4 p.m. is when you’re most likely to be retweeted. Make sure you’re sending your messages and engaging with users during peak social-media usage times to maximize your effectiveness. Dan Zarrella’s guide published on ProBlogger6 gives you the details about where and when to catch your audience.
For more information, visit:
2. “Nine Ways to Build Your Social Network”
3. “Ten Myths About Social Networking for Business”
6. “When’s the Best Time to Publish Blog Posts?”