It’s a fact: social media is here!
According to Nielson research, three of the world’s most popular online brands are social-media related (Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia) and social network or blog sites are visited by three quarters of global consumers who go online. Social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online in the U.S.
In 2010, companies spent close to $1 billion dollar on social media initiatives. Every day people are building relationships with other people and businesses they trust on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, FourSquare, Yelp… and researching through Digg, Reddit, Bing and other online social media platforms.
Consumers are online – and they are vocal! Businesses can be online with them: connecting with them, listening to what they’re saying, and capturing opportunities to build relationships. Through videos, games, contests, helpful information and blogs, businesses can capture and keep interest while building active relationships through community.
Quality followers want to be inspired and engage with businesses they trust – and businesses need to connect and engage with their customers! In today’s active social media world, businesses must have an active online presence for customer service and marketing their products.
Where is your business in cyberspace?
Are you social?
Can your customers find you?
How do you get there?
- 1. Start with a plan: Before you sign up for a social site, come up with a game plan. Answer these questions: What do you want to accomplish? How much time do you have to spend on maintaining a social profile? Who do you want to reach through social media – and where can you find them online? Those questions will help determine which tools and sites you should use. If you don’t know, start doing some research.
- 2. Fill out your profile:Adding a photo or filling out a brief description of yourself may seem basic, but it shows the community that you care and you’re real. A photo will help users remember you, and bios allow them to find you easily. Have some fun – show your human side!
- 3. Be transparent: Interacting with others on social sites can be a very personal experience. Users want to trust you – so make sure your profile honestly portrays who you are, what you do and why you’re on that site.
- 4. Be genuine: Stay true to who you are. People will want to connect with you through social media if they feel you offer an authentic relationship. Connecting Twitter feeds to Facebook may save time, but they may not offer the authentic relationships many users are looking for – or will want to interact with. Make sure you’re personally interacting as much as possible.
- 5. Stay active and commit time to building your profile:Creating an online profile takes time as your personality takes shape on your social networks. While you’re creating and building your profile, it’s important to maintain and update it as often as possible. Posting often will remind your followers that you’re active on the site, and they’ll be more likely to interact with you. Don’t post too often throughout a day though. You don’t want to clog up your friends’ feeds.
- 6. Listen and interact: Being active on social media sites requires two things: participating and listening. Your goals should be to: inspire – connect – educate – entertain. Social media isn’t a one-sided conversation. If you want others to comment and interact with you, spend time interacting with them. Be engaging by posting interesting and relevant content, asking questions and being polite (saying thank you, etc.).
- 7. Follow people back:Follow those who friend you. Mutual friendships offer several benefits, including the ability to send private messages to one another. They also show the community that you’re interested in others, instead of keeping to yourself. Share content with engaged followers, and you’ll build an active network.
- 8. Edit your posts: Become familiar with the editing options each site offers. On Twitter you can determine how your Tweet reads, and you can also edit the headline, description and photo on a link posted in Facebook or a link submitted to Digg. Customize the description of your post to something more appealing to your social media audience.
- 9. Track metrics:If you’re not sure how much of an impact you’re making, check your metrics. This could be as easy as setting up an account with bit.ly, a link shortening service. It tracks how many clicks each link receives and offers other analytics. It’ll help you figure out if your effort is yielding the response you want. If you’re a group administrator on Facebook, there are plenty of insights available to help you build your network and see positive, productive results! Social media is a viral channel. It’s very different from traditional marketing venues that are push channels. Social medial spreads through relationships. It takes time to build brand evangelists, but the effort is worth the rewards!
- 10. Mistakes happen: We all make mistakes online, but it’s important to learn from them and move on. If a message goes out that’s incorrect or inappropriate (OOPS!!), take a moment to correct the mistake or apologize. The community will appreciate it.
- 11. Know your role and fill a niche. Don’t call yourself a “social media expert” just because you’re on multiple social media sites. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Rather than trying to copy others to merely gain more followers, friends, connections, etc., identify your strengths and stick with them. For example, if your Twitter bio says “coffee loving guru”, then tweet a lot about… your love of coffee!
- 12. Have fun. That’s why most people are on social media to begin with! They’re reading what they love and sharing what they love – because they love it. Relationships are built around commonalities and trust. So enjoy your social media networking adventure and enjoy the relationships you build!
– © 2011 NOW Marketing Group, Inc.
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