Don’t let the thought of social media send you running in the opposite direction.
Social Media is just a piece of the Marketing Mix, and it is a great way to connect with your customers and develop relationships.
Some of you may not get as jazzed about marketing as I do, but marketing is simply letting people know what you are doing. It is essential to any business.
“Doing business without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.” -Stuart H. Britt
Social Media is just another kid on the marketing block. Once you get to know it a little better you will see that it fits right in.
So what exactly is Social Media?
Social Media is an online avenue for information sharing. It is changing the communication between organizations, customers, and individuals into an online interactive dialogue.
If you think of traditional media, such as television or newspapers, as a one-way street, social media is the two-way street. You, the individual, have the opportunity to take part in the information exchange. Social Media is based on user generated information. There are quite a few social media platforms out there like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and I’ll go into those in more detail a little later.
How can it help me and my business?
As an individual, you are not always around your friends and family. Some of them may even live far away. Social Media bridges those gaps and is a place where you can share photos, videos, and updates about your life with whomever you choose. When your child takes their first steps and you catch it on video, Social Media is the place you can instantly share it with everyone in your life.
One of my favorite quotes is, “When in doubt, ask Facebook”. I could call a friend or two and get an opinion about the best place to stay in San Francisco, OR I can simply put out a Facebook post and get loads of great answers from all my friends who know anything about it.
You can also connect with your favorite companies and build a relationship with them that is much more personal than the commercials you see on TV. You can get to know their employees, see photos of their new location, learn more about what they have to offer you, hear about a holiday party they are hosting, and much more.
It‘s rarely fun to sit on hold or muddle your way through an automated phone system punching ‘0’ and saying “representative” just hoping to talk to a real live person. Agree? Ask them a question through Twitter or Facebook and more often than not, you get an answer, maybe even a conversation.
As a business, you can connect with your customers when they aren’t right in front of you. With Social Media you have the opportunity to:
- Connect with customers and grow loyalty
- Build a community
- Spread awareness
- Keep your business top of mind
- Have another point of contact with your customers
- Build your brand identity
- Facilitate a customer service channel
- Open up a feedback tunnel
- Leverage your fans to help spread the word
Ok, I’m starting to get it. Now, what are my options?
Facebook is the biggie, or as I like to call it, the Behemoth. There are over 1.2 billion active users on Facebook and half of them log in on any given day. Wow. Facebook is a great place for the individual as well as businesses. You can setup a Personal Profile to connect with your friends and family and/or a Business Page to connect with your customers.
Twitter is what happens in between Facebook Posts, emails, and being face-to-face with your friends/customers. It is all about sharing short snipits about what is happening in your life or with your business. Status updates are called ‘Tweets’ and are limited to 140 characters. Short and sweet.
LinkedIn is THE professional social networking site. It is the place you can connect with co-workers, bosses, partners, clients, and potential clients. Phone numbers and emails change, but your connection on LinkedIn remains. Share your resume. Tell people about your professional experience and your specialties. Search for Jobs. LinkedIn is one of the top sites used by companies to recruit employees.
LinkedIn also has a place for you to add your Company Profile. Here, you can share information about your products and services and list job openings. On both your individual profile and your company profile, you can ask your connections (co-workers, clients, etc.) for recommendations (testimonials).
LinkedIn brings professionals together online.
YouTube is the place to share videos and it is the second largest search engine in the world. You can go there to find ‘how-to’ videos on just about anything, funny videos, cute videos, and more. Forget trying to read a manual on how to test a switch, just search YouTube and have someone show you how to do it.
OR, you can be the one creating those videos. You can create your own ‘channel’ and direct people to a listing of your videos. YouTube is an amazing place for individuals and businesses alike.
Google+ was launched to individuals in June 2011. A few months later in November 2011, Company/Branded pages were released. I think of it as a cross between Twitter and Facebook. This platform definitely has the potential to be great, just look at where it comes from. The main debate is about whether it will eventually have the traffic and attention that Facebook has. I’m sure it still has a few aces in its pocket that we have yet to see.
Foursquare is fabulous for location based businesses. If you have a storefront or an office that customers come to, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a presence here. When someone ‘checks-in’ to your business, it sends a message to their friends that they are at your business. They can leave tips that are publically viewable like ‘Try the FOCO special, it is amazing!’ and they can even upload photos. As a business, you can ‘claim your location’ and begin to offer a variety of discounts to those who check-in.
Pinterest is an application available on the web and mobile devices that offers users the ability to collect, share, and store images, videos, and messages. Users create and share their collections of images/videos, called ‘pins’, on their ‘boards’. This of it as a collection of cork boards with specific categories. Some like to think of it as window shopping or electronic hoarding. Businesses can use Pinterest to showcase their products in a very visually appealing way.
Instagram is an mobile photo and video sharing social network. It enables its users to take pictures and videos and share them to other social networking platforms as well, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. After a user takes a photo or video they have the ability to apply digital filters as well as include a caption with hashtags. The maximum duration for Instagram videos is currently 15 seconds.
Here we go!
So now you know a little bit about Social Media, how it can help you and your business, and a few of the major platforms. With any of these platforms, make sure you are properly using them. For example, don’t just setup a Facebook page and ignore it. If you want your customers to connect with you on Facebook, you need to be there and be attentive. Provide valuable content and understand that social media is a two-way street.
With Social Media Marketing there is no reason to fear, just start small and go slow. I’ll be here if you have any questions along the way so feel free to reach out.