When it comes to using social media marketing to build your business, the worst action is no action, and your biggest problem is being invisible, not being talked about negatively. As long as you’re part of the conversation online, you can hear what’s being said about you and massage negative perceptions about your business. But if no one is talking about you, you have no chance for growth. That means you need to get involved online as soon as possible, not only to capitalize on the opportunities that it presents to your business but also to develop and protect your reputation.
It’s a good idea to start with a plan that has goals and an organized framework to keep you on track. If you start down a path on the social web and hate what you’re doing, you can change things around. Just as you change networking and conversational approaches in person, you can do so on the social Web. The only differences are that on the social Web, you’re talking through your keyboard, and your potential audience is much, much larger.
Here are 5 things you should know before getting started with social media marketing.
Determine your goals
What do you want to get out of your social web participation? Why are you doing it? Are you trying to generate direct sales? Are you trying to offer a form of customer service? Do you want to build relationships with customers and boost loyalty?
Your answers to these questions greatly affect the type of content you publish and the activities you participate in on the social Web.
Evaluate your resources
Who is going to create your content? Who is going to maintain your social media accounts? Who is going to respond to the questions and be the face of your business online? Do you have the technical ability in-house to join the online conversation? If not, are you willing to learn? Can you or someone who works with you write well?
You need to be sure you have the necessary people in place to execute a social media marketing plan before you start.
Know your audience
Where does your target audience spend time online? What kind of content and conversations do the audience members get most vocal about? What kind of information do they want from you? What do they dislike?
Remember, you’re not just publishing marketing messages on the social web. You need to find out what your audience wants and needs, so you can provide the kind of content they find useful and interesting. However, you also need to be personable, so they actually want to interact with you.
Create a schedule
Allocate specific times during your day to devote to social media marketing. For example, spend five minutes on Twitter before you check your e-mail each day and another five minutes before you leave work each day. When you create a schedule, it’s easier to stick to it and make sure you don’t skip your social media marketing activities each day.
Adopt an 80-20 rule
Always spend at least 80 percent of your time on social media activities that are not self-promotional and no more than 20 percent of your time on self-promotional activities.
It can be easy to get caught up in the numbers but don’t become a slave to followers and subscribers. It’s better to have 1,000 highly engaged, loyal followers than 10,000 followers who sign up to follow you but then never acknowledge you again.