With the emergence of Social Media, business owners now have a number of additional resources at their disposal. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among the many Social Media sites businesses can use to connect with prospective customers and build brand awareness. Businesses of all sizes use these portals to supplement their other online and traditional marketing efforts including print, radio and television.
Is Social Media Right for My Business?
Social Media has become the great equalizer of the marketing world, providing small “Mom and Pop” businesses to multinational conglomerates the same level of accessibility. Yet many fail to leverage these new tools to their full potential because they fail to understand that this new media requires a new mind-set in order to be successful.
Instead of paying top dollar for top placement and then broadcasting your message to the world, Social Media focuses on engaging your target audience where they are, becoming involved in their online communities, listening to their concerns and offering solutions. If you’re thinking “that’s not selling”, you’re right. It’s not “selling” in the traditional sense of the word.
Getting Started with Social Media Business Marketing
Today’s consumers are increasingly media savvy and unwilling to play by the traditional sales rules. The days of the captive audience are gone. Satellite radio and television offer countless commercial-free options and TiVo and DVRs give consumers the power to record commercial programming and fast-forward through ads with the touch of a button.
As a business owner, you have two options. You can sit on the sidelines and watch your market share shrink or you can engage your customers, build your brand and grow your business.
Like traditional marketing, success with Social Media marketing takes time and effort, and a real strategy. Most experts agree it’s best to focus your efforts on just one or two Social Media platforms. Facebook and Twitter are the choice for many businesses. You’ll find a wealth of information on Facebook to help you create a compelling, professional-looking Facebook page for your business. Twitter also offers a step-by-step guide to using Twitter for your business. Many businesses also focus their efforts on a business blog and use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other Social Media platforms to support those efforts.
No matter which platform mix you decide on, the key to success is actively engaging your audience on a consistent basis and providing them with information they can use and share with others.
Monitor the Results of Your Social Media Marketing Efforts
You should treat your Social Media efforts like any other business activity. Making it a priority and scheduling time on your calendar will help you keep on track. You should also monitor the effectiveness of your efforts. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and many other platforms provide data about visitors to your pages and there are a number of free tracking tools that allow you to track visitors and visitor behavior on your blog. You can use the information to help you determine which efforts work and which ones don’t.
You should keep in mind that results won’t typically come overnight. Most experts agree that you should allow at least three months before declaring any new Social Media effort a success or failure.
Enlist Your Customers to Help Build Your Brand
Enlist your audience’s help in promoting your business by inviting them to comment on and distribute the information on your page. Be sure to ask that they include back links in re-posts of your articles in order to drive additional traffic to your page.
Keep in mind that Social Media is not a “silver bullet” solution. Like traditional marketing, the benefits you receive from Social Media marketing are directly tied to the time and effort you put into it.