If it seems like everyone has a Linked profile, a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you are probably right. After all, there are over 800 million users on Facebook and more than 80 per cent of Americans use at least one social network on a daily basis. In Australia the percentages are similar.
More than 60 per cent of people who use social media websites do so from their smartphone and adults who use social media websites are over 45 percent more likely to spend more money on clothes, accessories, shoes, music and more. Social media is a powerful factor in our society these days and as such, is an even more powerful source of sales leads and marketing.
Step 1: Sign Up If you are unfamiliar to the social media world, you are about to get a crash course introduction to social media for business. Head for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest and be prepared to spend some time getting set up on each site. Follow the directions on each site to set up a new profile. Remember that this is not a personal profile – the page should be a professional profile or a company page. Set up the page with lots of relevant and interesting pictures, information, company history, charitable organisations and/or involvement and contact information.
When you set up your profile consider a few different factors to help you focus the direction you want the page to take: - How do I want this page to help my business? If the answer is to show off your company’s latest product line or to show a more personal side of your business, focus your content in that direction. - What do I want to get out of this page? If the point is to collect as many new leads as possible, your page should contain a broad spectrum of information, content and images to attract as many different people as possible.
If you are aiming for a target demographic, the page should primarily reflect the interests and behaviour of that demographic. - What personality do I want to show on the page? This is important because this is the face that your page will present to the world for you and your business. If you want to be young, fun and hip, you need a casual, direct voice but if you want to be the authority in your business and market, the page should reflect that type of professionalism and expertise.
After you get your page set up, click on the “Help” or “About” section of each website to get the directions on how to download the website’s button onto your own website. This will let visitors who come to your website click on these buttons to join you on your social media sites.
2. Start Spreading the News Once you have your accounts set up and linked to your website, you can start being connected. Send an email out to your contacts and let them know you are on Facebook or Twitter, etc., and ask them to “Like” or “Follow” you. In return, offer a prize, sneak peak to an event, special deal or sale available to members only. Remember to collect the information about the leads you generate from those who opt-in to your social media network.
3. Stay Current Social media marketing requires a consistent time investment. It is important to post regular, relevant updates with interesting information and commentary on recent events in the industry, news or market. Post new pictures of people at company events or at charity events in which you or your company participates. “Follow” and “Like” others in your industry and post interesting, informed comments and ask questions on their pages, which will encourage them in turn to follow you. This is an excellent (and free) way to develop your network and gather leads.
4. Making it Work At this point, you need to choose whether you have the time and interest to maintain the social media websites on a daily basis. Some business owners or managers enjoy being the voice of the company and do not mind putting in the time to update each social media website daily and respond to comments, posts, twits, etc. However, many others find the task to be too time consuming and start to falter. If this is the case for you, then assign the task to someone who has the time to dedicate a few hours a day to keeping everything updated and current. Sometimes the best person for this job is a young intern who knows everything about all the newest social media sites and knows how to navigate through the sites and spread the word faster than those who are just starting to understand how social media works.
5. Manage Your Media Staying on top of all of the social media networking sites is truly a time consuming task. While it is entirely worthwhile, there are also tools available to help you manage your effort for less time. Try sites such as HootSuite or Ping.fm to set up a manager that follows all of your social media sites and schedules the release of your messages for each site. In addition, the manager provides statistics on page views and clicks, which let you know which sites are garnering more interest and what is not working as well. Remember that marketing in any form must be fluid in order to be effective.
Watch your online trends and make adjustments accordingly to continue to maximize your social media network presence to get leads and develop your network. If something is not working, move on to something else that is. Essentially, social media is no longer just the latest fad. It is how much of the world communicates, shops, finds out information and in many ways, how people choose to live their daily lives. Taking advantage of this powerful world is a necessary step in business, so spend the time to get your company established on the social media sites, so you can reap the rewards.