By John Hayes, EMEA business development executive, iContact
Let's cut to the chase here. Social media isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and the opportunities for small and medium sized business to fuel rapid growth via social media marketing is enormous. But just because you are on Facebook and Twitter, it doesn’t mean you have a social media marketing strategy and in fact most companies still don’t know what to do with social media marketing.
Let’s get social
I meet with companies every day who tell me that they would like to somehow engage with social media marketing but have neither the time nor the basic knowledge to do it. While consultants and journalists are happy to showcase the successes of the likes of Dell and Coca Cola as social media success stories, these names (and their massive marketing budgets and resources) hardly even resonate with SME marketers who may be both cash and time poor.
But make no mistake, the opportunities for SMEs to profit from social media marketing are out there and often just call for slight changes to your working day to implement. Here are my six quick tips:
1. Socialise your email marketing activity
Your email marketing subscribers, as loyal customers or prospects who have already engaged with your business, are your most lucrative market. The mere fact they have opted-in to receive regular communications of offers from you shows that they trust you and want to hear from you. By adding Social Media tools such as a Facebook “like” button or a Twitter “tweet” button to your emails will encourage them to share your email content with their friends and followers and could potentially turn an email viral.
2. Schedule your social media output
You don’t need to be sitting in front of a computer to post messages to Facebook and Twitter. Software tools are available that allow you to schedule your posts to the social media networks. This means you can plan and launch multiple campaigns to run automatically over the coming days or weeks. This is particularly useful if you are targeting customers across different time zones or just outside of normal office hours.
3. Learn to listen
Just as you may schedule time to answer your emails, you should schedule some time to monitor or “listen” to your feedback relating to your company or brand via the Social Networks. Larger companies may want to employ sophisticated software such as Radian6 or Brandwatch – but smaller companies can keep costs down by very simply using the search facility on Twitter, monitoring their Facebook pages and setting up Google Alerts to catch mentions on blogs and forums, etc. It’s also a good idea to monitor your competitors brand terms and compare sentiment towards them with your brand.
4. Don’t be afraid to engage
There is a very good reason it is called social media. Don’t be afraid to engage with people via Social Media. Thank people for kind words or recommendations. Try and assist people who might have problems and never ignore an angry comment.
5. Add value with your own content
Too many people use Social Media to re-appropriate other people’s content. Just because you are 10th person to re-tweet and interesting news article or blog post does not mean you are a Thought Leader. Add value to your Social Media output by creating your own content. This could be a blog post, a competition or even just a simple photo or image which showcases your business.
6. Maintain momentum
Once you have started, don’t stop. An ill-tended or redundant social network gives the impression of a slack organisation or may even suggest you have simply gone out of business. It might take a number of months to see any real return on your investment (in terms of followers and revenue) so stick at it and be prepared to build slowly.
For social media training, contact the experts at The Knowledge Engineers who can help you to achieve social media success.
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