Used correctly, social media can help any business expand its market reach, get more customers, increase awareness of the business, and enhance relationships and profitability with current customers. Used incorrectly, social media can damage the image of your business—a negative image that will be difficult, and likely expensive, to repair.
What are the first steps in using social media to market your business? First, decide on a clear objective for a social media campaign. Before launching a campaign, make sure you understand how social media marketing differs from other forms of traditional marketing. For example, with social media, you can’t overtly promote your business to be effective. Once you have defined your objectives, develop a basic social media marketing plan. The plan should include a definition of what “voice” you intend to use in your interaction. A “voice” is how you communicate with your audience. Another important component of the plan is deciding which tools you will use to propagate social media space.
One common mistake in social media marketing is expecting immediate results. Before making people want to do business with you, you first need to develop a relationship with them, which takes time. Another common mistake is thinking of social media marketing as a one-time effort. What is required is ongoing development of content and connecting with other people on an ongoing basis.
Who should do the work, such as article writing and blog posting? Although you could have these tasks performed in-house, it is usually more cost effective to outsource the work. Two basic choices are to outsource the work to a company or agency who has dedicated employees, or to individual contractors. Individual contractors may give your job more attention, although if that contractor is no longer responsive, you will have to invest additional time and effort training someone else.
If you decide to hire an outside firm to do your marketing, find out how long the company has been involved in social media and who, by name, will be assigned to your account. Check their background and experience. Ask the firm you are considering for testimonials and references. Follow up with all the references you have obtained, and find out what they do and do not like about the company you are considering.
Social media can be a powerfully effective component of your overall marketing strategy if you use it effectively. Before embarking on any social media campaign, invest the time required to develop an effective plan, obtain sufficient resources to deploy that plan, and monitor results.