It’s no wonder more and more companies now use Social Media as part of their marketing strategies – why wouldn’t you want to get involved when you get to speak directly to millions of users who could be your target audience plus the accounts are free to sign up to.
With research showing that Social Media is here to stay and not just a passing fad, companies can’t afford to ignore this new platform on which to build their brand. However, in order to use it successfully, there are some golden rules which need to be adhered – so before you get going, here are some tips!
1.Set yourself some objectives
You know you need to start using Social Media but where do you start? Before you jump straight in, make sure you’ve set yourself some objectives and have looked into the different sites available – which sites would your target audience most likely be using, for instance?
Plan your Social Media marketing around the rest of your marketing objectives and use it as an extension to your current activities. Setting yourself objectives at the beginning will help you to analyse the ROI to your business further down the line.
Examples of what you may want to get out of joining a Social Media site; increasing traffic to your website via links, building a large number of fans/followers, communicating with your current customers/clients, generating new leads or creating business partnerships.
2. Look professional
Your Social Media should be an expansion of your other online presence – it therefore needs to fit in with your current branding so you are instantly recognisable. Facebook and Twitter allow you to customise your profiles and backgrounds – you can even change them to fit in with a current campaign or season e.g. Halloween or Christmas.
3. Get your messaging right
Once you’ve decided on the right Social Media sites for you, make sure you get your messaging right. You may use two or three different sites – your messaging needs to be adapted per site in order to attract the right audience. For instance, your followers on Facebook may want different messages to those on LinkedIn or Twitter.
4. Promote your presence
Once you are using Social Media – you need to let people know you are on there! They aren’t necessarily going to search for you so shout about the fact you are on the sites. Here are some ways you can promote your Social Media presence:
– include links/ icons/ widgets on your website
– include links in the footer of your emails
– include links in your signature on forums
– add the links to all of your company stationery
– includes links on your printed media
– email your database with a message specifically dedicated to the ‘launch’ of your Social Media profiles
– use paid ads on social sites
– use paid search advertising
– send direct mail pieces to existing clients
5. Decide who is going to be managing your Social Media
Most companies we speak to don’t have the time or resources to manage their Social Media. Before you decide to sign up to any sites think about who is going to keep them updated – if you give the job to someone internally make sure they understand how to use the sites and are good at communicating! Don’t forget they will be the ‘voice’ for your company so you need to ensure they are appropriate for the role.
6. Take time to build relationships
If you’re using Social Media make sure you commit to it and spend time building relationships with your audience, engaging with them on a regular basis. The more time you spend building relationships, the greater your chances of achieving your original objectives. Acknowledge new followers and respond to any queries – liken the process to face-to-face networking and adopt a similar approach.
7. Don’t bore people
One of the big mistakes people make is thinking that Social Media is just to be used as a promotional platform and only ever talk about themselves and their products or services. You need to engage with your fans or followers, give them interesting and exciting content – build ongoing relationships with them.
8. Get the right balance
You don’t hear anything from a business for a while and then all of a sudden you get 4 or 5 different posts in the space of 5 minutes! Or you start following someone and they never update or post about anything – use Social Media in this way and you are sure to lose not gain followers.
Although there is no golden number for how many times you should ‘tweet’ or post a message make sure you get the balance right, experiment at the beginning and work out what’s right for your company.
9. Don’t expect results overnight
Be patient and don’t expect results to happen immediately – you need to build a ‘community’ on the sites. Follow people, companies and organisations who you regularly work with for example. It may take at least 3 months before you start seeing any real ROI from using Social Media and even then results might not be measurable.
10. Think before you post
Don’t forget that once you’ve posted something it’s out there for everyone to see! Even if you do delete something, the damage may already have been done. So make sure you think before you post anything.
11. Make sure you know the Social Media website ‘rules’
Now sites such as Facebook are being used by brands as well as individuals, Facebook has tightened it’s rules on how competitions are run on the site. Make sure you check these before you do anything – there are plenty of ‘apps’ out there to help support you and create professional looking pages. You could risk having your profile removed if the rules aren’t adhered too, which could be embarrassing!