SOCIAL MEDIA – 4 ESSENTIAL TIPS TO AVOID FAILURE

Below is a list of the things you will need to have in place when considering a social media presence for your company. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the fundamentals of Social Media Marketing and I can guarantee you the whole process won’t be as successful as it should be. Social media is like any other part of your marketing strategy; it needs to be planned, measured and improved upon over time so that you optimise your success.

1. SUITABILITYSELECT THE BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR YOU – You’ll need to choose the best platforms for your company. We’d suggest that Facebook will work for just about everybody because of its vast reach (620 million users as of February 2011) and its superb flexibility. You can now choose from a massive range of tailoring options for your pages which can be highly beneficial when developing a strategy (More on this in upcoming blogs). Twitter might be a good option for you and Linked In is also a good one for business-to-business connections. What about visual platforms like Flickr? If you’re an accountant or a solicitor I’d say potentially not, whereas if you’re in a visual profession (architect, interiors, graphics etc.) then it’s perfect. It’s all about picking the most relevant platforms for you.

2. STRATEGY – Don’t go into social media blindly thinking that if you have a Facebook page and a load of followers then you’ve succeeded. Number of followers means nothing (unless you’ve got less than about 30!). Firstly, you need to have an idea of what you want to achieve by using social media… Is it brand loyalty? Brand awareness? Increased Sales? Customer feedback? Then you need to think about how to go about measuring and influencing that through social media. A presence without a strategy is virtually a waste of time; don’t worry, this is a mistake most people make.

3. STATISTICS PACKAGE – You have designed a strategy and have thought about how you can measure the success of your social media platforms based on your individual objectives… Now you need to actually measure the referral rate of social media sites to your website; how many hits, how many sign-ups to your blog or newsletter? How many people commenting? Otherwise, how will you ever know what’s working and what’s not? By measuring your success you can adapt your strategy to make it more effective and ultimately more successful as a long-term prospect. Quick tip; Facebook gives you free ‘insights’ into your Facebook page stats; use them. Also implement a stats package into your website... immediately. Even if you don’t use social media! I can’t stress how important this is for your web marketing whether you use social media or not. If you are running blind with a website you will never know what other people think of it, which pages are attracting people and (more importantly) which aren’t; you will therefore never be able to adapt your plan in a focussed way to avoid failure. Check some of the stats examples here – http://zenithonlinemarketing.co/portfolio/web-design/

4. WEBSITE – There’s no point in getting a load of extra traffic that you never had before if your website looks terrible. Design is of huge importance and sadly, a lot of companies out there just don’t have a well-designed website to back up their level of expertise. Think about where you need to be and plan ahead. I am also constantly shocked by how many people use a Facebook page in place of having a website at all, simply because it’s free – BIG mistake. Through the next few blog posts we’ll cover some more of the theory behind social media marketing and you’ll see why this is madness – you need to have a website and you need to make sure it’s well designed, attractive, intuitive and functional… and that it links to all your social media platforms and vice-versa.

TIME AND EFFORT

So, now that you’ve got all these social media platforms ready to go, what are the time-implications for you or your business? Are you going to need to devote an entire marketing team at 40 hours a week just to update all your social media pages? Simple answer; no. You should however give one person (or one team) ultimate responsibility for it – they should be in control of updates, strategy, reports etc. and should be accountable for progress on this. A few little tips in terms of what you need to give in terms of content and time; Where do you start??

VALUE You shouldn’t just use your social media platforms to ‘sell’. It won’t work; people don’t like things being shoved down their throats when they’re trying to relax. You need to offer your followers and contacts content of value, based upon the area of expertise that you excel at. Ask yourself what you’re best at; how can you provide valuable content for people? Whether that means offering free articles (perhaps with information on what you do), gifts, expert opinions, help or just a message of support or a referral. Show people that you are interested in what they do and try to help them. That’s how you build credibility and relationships in the real world and why would it be any different in social media?

TIME – A lot of people’s first response to the suggestion of using social media business is; ‘I don’t have time for it‘. There seems to be this widespread misconception that social media takes up a huge portion of anyone’s day. This is not true at all. If you’re smart about it you can get away with doing it in about 10-15 mins a day, maybe less. If you’re even smarter, this 10-15 minutes could be while you have a coffee in one hand and your phone in the other. If you have a good phone (iphone, blackberry, one of the countless other phones out there that now have social media apps)… USE IT. I can’t stress this enough. It gives you immediate access to your pages even when you’re at the gym, away on business, on the sofa. You can post links, comments, ‘likes’, articles or photos with ultimate ease in this way. Technology is out there to be used so don’t let it pass you by because you prefer a phone that ‘just calls people’.

Having said all that, you still need to make a commitment within your business to regularly update your pages. Nothing looks worse than a page that hasn’t been updated in 6 months. Amazing then, that you’ll find a lot of companies out there claiming to be ‘social media specialists’ who are guilty of this. “If you don’t use it, lose it” (as somebody pertinently once said, I think). Don’t be one of these people who starts off with good intentions only to let them fade into the background after 3 or 4 weeks persistence. If you haven’t used a social media page for over 3 months, I’d recommend you delete your profile. It could actually do more harm than good having it sitting there, unused. If you are starting out in social media, just make a commitment to set aside a small portion every couple of days to post a link, helpful article etc. However, don’t use this as an excuse not to follow the 4 major points above (e.g. strategy, stats etc.).

So, there’s a quick overview of some of the essentials you’ll need to consider before committing to your social media platforms. Next time we’ll be covering some examples of good practice when providing content; including interesting suggestions as to how you might wish to include value in your own posts.

Let us know if you have any queries in the comments boxes below; all are welcome and we’ll aim and get back to you asap.

Meantime, if this was helpful, feel free to ‘like’ it below the post and check out the previous social media blog here

Alex

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