Fact – too many businesses still need to wake up and realize that social media is not “one of these Internet fads” that will disappear.
Fact – because of this mindset, too many businesses are potentially missing out on extra business that could mean the difference between staying afloat and going under. So why the problem?
One of the main reasons is that businesses – whether it’s the CEO, top-tier management or otherwise – are looking at social media as an individual medium, much like PR or marketing.
This is where the cracks start to appear. Social media benefits companies the most when it’s used as part of an integrated campaign.
Social media is also perfect for reaching out and connecting with your audience, as opposed to just selling them something. Sure, you’re still selling your brand or product – but this time, it’s in an “encouraging to ask questions” approach instead of “this is us and you’ll like it” one.
Accepting that social media needs to be approached as an integrated strategy rather than a standalone campaign is the first step businesses need to take. After that, the job gets a little bit easier.
Define Your Audience
Just like any market or product, social media is made up of different audiences. As a business owner, you wouldn’t launch a new product onto a more traditional marketplace without some in-depth market research first – don’t ignore this on social media.
Knowing your audience is key to succeeding in business social media. You need to know if your audience are participants or promoters. Why the need to differentiate? Simple –
- Participants are social media users that may use numerous social media sites and applications, but don’t really “take part” in the medium. They’re like the visitors to your business website that may purchase something and then interact with you no further. There’s nothing wrong with this – but as a method of expanding your brand, you may need to look elsewhere.
- Promoters are the users that like to share information – whether it’s recommending something via Twitter or their blog, if they come across something they like they will pass that information on. This is where your use of social media can help build your name. Just remember that social media works both ways. Don’t try and cheat the system – give back just as much (more, even) as you receive.
Have a Clear and Defined Goal
Another area where businesses are failing to adapt social media to their needs is that they don’t have a clear goal on what they want to achieve. Many hear the phrase “social media” and immediately feel they need to be a part of this buzz, jump straight in without any forward thinking, and are then disappointed with the (lack of) results.
Ask yourself who you want to connect with and why, and then research the areas of social media that are most relevant to your needs. Demographics are one of the key points of knowledge for any campaign – make sure you know where your demographics are playing online. A social map can help here.
Again, though, don’t try and play the system – cheaters will soon be found out, and your brand can suffer irreparable damage if seen as merely a self-promotional company on social media.
Tools of the Trade
Once you have your audience and your goal set out, you need to use the tools that will help you the most. There are numerous available, and this is where building your social media connections can help, by advising what ones they use and what results they achieve.
Some of the best free examples of business tools include Monitter (which allows you a view on Twitter discussions of keywords); Google Alerts (giving you insight into what’s being said about you); and Social Mention (letting you gauge social reactions and reach to your topic or keywords and allowing you to jump in on conversations elsewhere).
Getting into social media shouldn’t be a hard decision for businesses to make – it’s either right for you or it isn’t. Social media is a long-term strategy, not a short-term fire sale.
Understand that, and you begin to understand social media.