With all the hype around Social Media, more and more companies are reaching out to their marketing specialists to find out what it takes to become involved. Scattered across the internet you can find tips, suggestions, and stories about effective social media practices, but who wants to read all of them? Many are tailored to personal accounts, but becoming connected on a business level can be harder and will require different methods. I dug into some of the articles to pull the common themes regarding social media use for business, and highlighted some details that can make social media marketing easier for you.
First things first, you need to do some research on both your customers’ networking trends and the available social media platforms. In general, what do your customers expect from you? This is a key point for developing your social media strategy- they want brand integrity. Stay true to your brand and what your company stands for. Looking into the different networking sites is crucial to your online marketing success. One social media site may be better for your specific business than another. It is important to network on the site your customers are using to find out information about products and services, specifically those pertaining to your industry.
Once you have established the best way of reaching your audience, it is important to develop an action plan or strategy. Schedule time every day/week/month – whatever you feel is right – to spend on your social media platform. Use this time to update your company information, communicate with customers who might have questions or comments, and address any concerns or issues that people may have. Build your network during this time, requesting friends/fans/followers (depending on the platform you use). Most importantly, focus on consistency. The message you intend to portray to the public, whether it’s to drive sales or gain product awareness, must be consistent throughout your platform(s).
After you have a set strategy, use the allotted time to continue building connections and strengthening relationships within your network. Be ready for more failures than wins the first few times around. Say hi to your connections; get to know them. The thing about social media is that everyone has equal power, there is no authority. Act toward your customers like you would expect businesses to act toward you as a customer. Most importantly, learn to deal with the negativity. It’s been said that people are quicker to complain than compliment, but negativity is a cry for help and an acknowledgement that they care about your company. It also gives you the opportunity to grow from the negative experience and build a stronger brand image as a reliable company.
Lastly, always remember that marketing is a commitment, and you must meet your customers half way. They won’t always reach out to you so sometimes it is your responsibility to get their attention. Only invest in the relationships with your customers if you have planned to continually connect with them on the personal level brought on by social media. If you feel it may be too much work, social media experts can assist you in managing your platforms, or continue with your current marketing plan. The main point is to not mislead your customers into thinking you are something other than who you appear to be. Just because social media is there does not mean it is always right for your company.
Remember, social media can have a long-term impact on brand preference, so be cautious of what you put out to the public. Joseph Jaffe from Crayon, a marketing company, refers to social media as an investment in “well-structured experimentation”. There is no right way to conquer the social media and networking world, so start slow, don’t jump ship too quickly if you get frustrated, and remember to meet your customers half way.
By Bridgid Shea, Marketing Coordinator for The Computer Company, Inc.