You started a business blog, created a Twitter profile and developed a Facebook page--now what? Sure, you can start publishing updates and sending friend and follow requests, but those communications are just the preliminary steps to social media marketing success.
Here are five tips that anyone can apply to their social media marketing efforts today and start seeing positive results almost immediately.
- Make it easy and non-threatening for your audience to participate.
Not only does your content matter on the social web but your personality matters, too. In other words, you need to be accessible and approachable in all of your social media marketing communications. Don't talk at people, talk with them, and do so in a manner that makes it clear that you want them to join the conversation.
This applies to your employees as well. Your employees are your best brand advocates. Make it easy and non-threatening for them to talk about your business on the social web by providing simple guidelines for them to follow. You can find an excellent directory of well-known company social media and blogging policies here, which you can benchmark in order to develop your own business' guidelines.
- Write share-worthy content.
The more amazing content that you publish online through your social media profiles and branded destinations, the more people will want to share it with their audiences. That leads to far more online exposure for you, your business and your brand than you can get on your own. Of course, not every piece of content that you publish on social sites has to be share-worthy, but you should try to publish as much amazing, share-worthy content as possible. Not just to broaden your exposure, but also to add value to the online conversation.
- Acknowledge and recognize your audience.
The power of social media marketing comes from the relationships you develop with your online audience (who will become brand advocates and will talk about your business, champion it, and defend it against naysayers). With that in mind, you must acknowledge people when they reach out to you.
Would you ignore a person who walked up to you at a networking event and spoke to you? Hopefully, your answer to that question is, "no." No one likes to be ignored, and social media conversations shouldn't be treated differently from in-person conversations. Many of the most successful marketers make a point of responding to every e-mail, blog comment, tweet and so on that is directed at them. So recognize your audience, and make them feel important.
- Integrate all of your marketing efforts.
All of your marketing efforts should work together to present consistent brand messages and lead to your ultimate marketing goals. You should also cross-promote your various marketing efforts. For example, feed your blog content to your Twitter and Facebook profiles using a tool like www.Twitterfeed.com. Promote your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles by including "Follow Me" buttons in your blog's sidebar that link to your profiles. Include your Twitter ID in your printed ads and link to your blog and social media profiles in your e-mail signature.
The key is to surround your audience with branded experiences and let them select how they want to interact with your business and brand. Give them options and make it easy for them to join the conversation in the way that they choose.
- Don't try to keep up with the Jones'.
Just because your competitor is doing something on the social web doesn't mean that you need to do the same. By blindly following your competitor's path, you're marketing scared and without purpose. Plus, it's probable that your competitor's initiatives won't help you meet your goals at all. While it's essential that you monitor your competitor's social media marketing activities, you should analyze them against your own goals before implementing any of them yourself.