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Start to Understand Social Media

June 24, 2013

A social media presence makes it much easier for customers to find you because the profiles are simple, current, and they are on the same sites as your customers. Some companies even hire employees or independent contractors just to manage their social media platforms because they are so important.

 

A major benefit to having a Facebook or Twitter profile is that setting up the profile won’t cost you any money. You don’t necessarily need to hire someone exclusively to manage your social media but it will cost you time and patience so it will benefit you to learn how to effectively use social media now. These tips will help you to quickly enhance your small business with social media.

 

  1. Make a social media plan.

 

What do you want from your social media platforms? You could focus on building loyalty, reaching new customers, increasing sales, or something else. Like the thesis of a research paper, your social media content should be specific to your central goal.

 

2. Outline specific goals.

 

Social media is about conversation. Set specific goals such as posting at least every other day and adding a certain number of fans each week or month.

 

3. Identify the stakeholders.

 

Identify exactly who will work on your social media. It helps to have a consistent voice and someone who isn’t afraid to post content.

 

4. Allocate weekly time for social media.

 

If your page looks dead, you will lose followers. Social media is finicky and there is no guarantee of success. You need to spend time on it exploring all your options and tending to your goals. It shouldn’t be a flimsy task, it should be allocated time just like every other responsibility at your company.

 

5. Start with just one or two social media channels.

 

Social media takes time. Don’t be overly ambitious when setting up initial profiles. Setting up a Facebook and a Twitter profile are perfectly fine to establish yourself on the social media scene.

 

In addition to setting up Facebook and Twitter, search for your company to find places like Yelp! or “phone book” style websites where you might already be mentioned. Even just claiming your profile on these sites and adding your website or a link to your Facebook page makes you look much more active. After time, look into branching out into more specialized social networking sites.

 

6. Find and know your customers, influencers, partners, and competitors.

 

Think about the traditional question of customer demographics. Old or young? Male or female? Urban or rural? Upper or middle class? Then turn to Internet categories. There are creators of contents, conversationalists who update statuses and tweet, critics who review products on websites, blogs, and forums, collectors who vote and add tags to content, joiners who have multiple accounts, and spectators who just look. Each category occupies a place on the Internet and identifying whom you want to reach will help you refine your message.

 

It is also very important to keep in mind how you want customers to see your company. Make sure you have an idea similar to a mission statement saying what your company is about. You don’t have to post this core assertion anywhere but it will help you immensely to have a concise description of what is important to your company so your content is consistent in promoting that vision.

 

Also check out similar companies and competitors. What might your customer also view? Remember, your social media profile is one of many that a customer will look at so know what it will look like in that context. The more knowledgeable you are, the better. You can even set up custom alerts for keywords that have to do with your business so you can see information right away.

 

7. Ask questions, share insights, tips, and best practices, and talk to your customers!

 

Studies have shown that businesses that post some questions on social media platforms receive strong responses. Create interactive content, it’s much more sticky.

 

Perhaps one of the most important parts of social media: TALK to your customers! Social media is a giant conversation, not just sets of information. If a customer mentions your business in a status, share or promote it. Put your events on Facebook and invite friends. Run contests and promotions that will rely on social media. If a customer says anything at all to you, respond in a timely, friendly, and customized fashion. The best social networking is constant.

 

8. Become “the subject matter expert; the authority”.

 

Sharing knowledge and editorial content related to your business can be a huge draw for customers. People always like learning something new about something they care about. If you make it clear that you are up on the latest news, it will look like your company is of-the-moment. Promote your industry and knowledge and you promote yourself.

 

9. Analyze, repeat, and modify your social media plan as needed.

 

As mentioned above, the best social media is constant interaction. Set one of your goals to be for an evaluation-say, six months after you set up your accounts you’ll sit down and analyze everything that you have done with it. Don’t be afraid to change parts of your plan! Don’t feel pressured to do it perfectly right away. Your customers change and so do you so your plan should change, too.

 

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