Three Things You Must Do to Be Successful With Social Media

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Attempting social media marketing without a well-planned strategy is like jumping into the deep end of the pool when you can't swim -- not a recipe for success. At Entrepreneur's Winning Strategies for Business conference, Starr Hall revealed three things you must do to be successful with social networking.

1. Build social proof: Social proof is just that, proving online that you're worth doing business with. Your reviews, testimonials and recommendations are what convince people you are worth building a relationship with.

If you're taking the time to build social proof, you shouldn't have time to SPAM people. SPAM is:
Meeting Let Hall's useful acronym save you from yourself. Constantly trying to pitch damages your social proof.

2. Choose quality not quantity: The more people you know, the less you know them. Hall asks; if you have 50,000 friends online, how can you possibly manage those relationships? The answer is, you're not. Stop thinking about the numbers! The whole point of social media is to cultivate relationships with your market, it's not a popularity contest. Concentrate on developing a rapport with people who engage with your brand online, the numbers will take care of themselves.

3. Have a plan and procedures: Imagine hopping in your car to take an out-of-state road trip, only you don't take a map. That's the analogy Hall used to illustrate a common mistake among small-business owners; participating in social media without policies and procedures.

Your employees, vendors, partners, etc., should be free to engage in social media on behalf of your brand, but they need guidelines. Tell your people what they are allowed to tweet about, and the topics that are off-limits. Having a social media policy, signed by all employees, will also protect you if an employee quits or is fired on bad terms. Imagine if that disgruntled employee takes to LinkedIn to bad-mouth your business. If you have a signed policy in place, this will save you the hassle of costly litigation.

Social networking is a new way to engage with customers, and the rules of traditional marketing often don't apply. That's because traditional marketing is a one-sided dialogue where the goal is the sale; whereas social media marketing is a two-way communication, and the goal is to build relationships.

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