Now that things like Facebook and Tweets are household words the question is how to make it work for your business or company. As you know, Social Media consists of network-based websites and technologies that support and encourage user-generated content and conversation through blogs, photos, videos, discussion forums, reviews, and more.
By effectively engaging your audiences within these communities you can increase dialogue and participation with your brand and company significantly impacting your business.
The first thing you need to know is that Social Media takes some work and it takes time. You have to be committed. But the ability to influence discussions, manage your online reputation and spread the word virally, and even generate leads, can return rich rewards. You just have to be patient and gain an acute understanding how to make it work for your business.
So how do you get started?
What do you want to accomplish? Build your reputation in the marketplace? Generate traffic to your website? Create awareness within a select community? Promote an event? Build some brand ambassadors to evangelize about your product? There are many goals that social networks and media can help you achieve. Create a list of objectives and then decide what is the best social media strategy for your small business.
The first thing you can do is search for Social Networks that your customer may belong to. Some may blog on professional networks. Some may participate in conversations on industry forums. Others may be on Facebook or Twitter. Yelp, a peer-to-peer review site, has become a very popular site for folks to weigh in on everything from companies to their favorite places. Even your local newspaper is now online and offers blogs on every subject.
You can search for your name or by topics that you think your customers may be involved with.
The first thing to do is to listen. Spend some time understanding the audience and conversation. It’s important to know the rules of the road. Don’t just jump in and start talking. You want to learn who the big influencers are and to get a sense of the tone and tenor of the dialogue. Must importantly, you want to understand how you fit in.
Take your first step. If we are talking about a blog or a forum, maybe you can offer expertise or comment on a subject you are passionate about. Your advice could lead to further conversations.
If you hear someone comment negatively on your business, you have a chance to dig further and maybe resolve the issue. On a site like Yelp you might even want to thank customers for their favorable comments with a free offer.
Start a Facebook page or LinkedIn group around your company’s passions and those of your employees, clients, or customers. Promote your events. Share your stories. Post photos and videos.
Rinse and Repeat
Now that you have taken your first step, wait and see what happens. Then try it again. It’s important that you experiment. Engaging in Social Media is more of an art than a science. Be prepared to make mistakes (one to avoid is being too self-promoting vs. organically engaging). Just remember, it takes time, work and a lot of typing.
For more information on social network marketing, contact Tom Casale or Bill Kamper at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-886-7669.