Do you stay quiet on social media because if you admit that you don’t get it, social media experts look at you like you have three heads? You are not alone.
A lot of business owners feel that this marketing tool is beyond their understanding and will remain so. If you secretly feel hopeless or stupid about social media marketing, read on. You’ll find a strategy and a day-to-day plan that will get results.
Focus on objectives, purpose and brand
First, stop worrying about individual social media applications and tools, and get clear on the purpose of your business and your brand.
What does your business do for customers?
What is your brand promise?
What do you want to be known for?
Don’t over-think these questions, just jot down a few notes and thoughts. They will become your talking points as you step into the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ worlds.
Think of social media applications as rooms
Once you’re clear on your message and your talking points, imagine each social media application as a room at an event. Walking into any social media space is like walking into a bar.
When you walk into a bar, you might join a group of friends and chat with them. TVs tuned to the news have a newsfeed running across the bottom. (The links that people share on social media sites are like that newsfeed.) You might also hear tidbits of conversations from the people around you. You may leave one conversation for another, or just listen to several conversations.
When you think about it this way, it’s obvious what your behavior on social media sites should be and what kind of information you might want to share with people. You wouldn’t think about blatantly selling anything at a bar because a bar is not a retail outlet. But you would share your experience with a product or service. You should be active in social media to interact, learn and inform others—casually.
Give your business or your brand a voice
Maybe you’re used to relating to marketing communications as a company instead of as a person. In the past, we’ve been conditioned to separate our personal lives from our business lives. But social media marketing emphasizes personal voices inside brands.
Every social media platform was originally designed for individual communication—for people, not companies. Think about what it is that you have to share that supports your business and your brand.
One of my favorite examples is Shashi Bellamkonda, director of social media at Network Solutions (@ShashiB). He is committed both personally and professionally to small business and its participation online. His personal expertise and experience fully support that of the larger Network Solutions brand. Visit his Twitter profile and notice how comfortable he is in this room.
Focus on your marketing objectives and results
Many small business owners try to use social media to achieve sales objectives instead of marketing objectives. Selling on social media is not only ineffective, it’s a sure way to put people off instead of attracting them to your brand.
From a marketing perspective, what are you trying to achieve, and who are you trying to attract?
Suggestions by business type
Business-to-consumer or retail: Build relationships with your local community to attract local people. Use Twitter and Facebook to communicate what’s going on at your location.
Professional: Build your credibility and expertise by sharing information and educating your target audience. Participate in LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups and pages in your vertical markets. Build your focused network across regions if that’s appropriate for your business.
Business-to-business: Build relationships with relevant people in your networks. Use LinkedIn to find and connect with decision-makers and influencers inside the companies you work with and in your customers’ companies. Create lists on Twitter that include experts in your industry and conversations about the industry topics that you’re interested in. Google indexes Twitter conversations, so have those keyword-rich conversations there. Google+ is the latest social media tool that combines the benefits of Facebook and Twitter and makes it possible to collaborate and work in a social media environment.
Create a place for conversations to land and expand
You may not be successful with social media because you don’t have a clear place for these conversation to “land.” It’s hard to get any traction from social media when you don’t have an offer or an internet representation of what you’re talking about.
Don’t just link to your home page—that’s confusing for your audience. Write blog articles that clearly communicate your brand and your offer in a way that is useful, engaging and educational. Start conversations. You can capture people from the online world and add them to your own sales and marketing database by creating landing pages that have offers such as downloadable reports, e-courses, white papers, videos and templates.
Focus on a few key social media spaces and let go of the rest. If you do everything I’ve outlined here, you’ll come up with a few key sites that support your marketing strategies. Participate more fully in the areas that you’ve targeted based on your goals and objectives.
Base your social media policy on your marketing strategy
Writing a policy doesn’t have to be a big, scary, official thing. It’s a set of rules that you follow on social media that supports your goals and objectives. It keeps you focused on what you’ve decided to work on as you navigate social media spaces.
Focus on your marketing objectives and then use social media marketing to engage with your audience in a way that generates interest and, ultimately, new customers. Use social media to build a community that is engaged in your brand because you are engaged in helping them understand and use your brand.
You’ll experience the satisfaction that comes from having access to your customers and influence in your market.