Tips for Using Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Business people today have to work in two worlds — the real and the virtual … but navigating the social media landscape can be tricky, with new platforms constantly emerging … how to keep up with them all, which ones are best? How can you use them most effectively to get your message out?  We talked to two local experts, David Day of The Day Group, and Jessi Stafford with STUN Design and Interactive.

Social media is social. Don’t try to make it something it is not–a sales site. While it can be a part of an overall marketing strategy, social media creates an opportunity to interact with multiple people. If you aren’t actively engaged on a daily basis with your social media following, you are missing the point.

Use your site to give, not to take. Connections are powerful tools, and you want others to use your site, because your content enhances their visit. Always evaluate what you are giving, not what you are getting.

This might mean that not every business is the right fit for every site. You can use a social strategy to drive traffic and followers to your website, but if you sell garden hoses, you might not be the most popular page on a site like Pinterest, a heavily visual medium.

Understand the Power of the Population. “While Facebook might have 800 million users, they are not all yours.” To use Facebook wisely, you earn the right to reach others by creating your own universe of users. Each follower creates more exposure by using the principle of multiplication. You get likes by being likable.

This provides an opportunity to enhance the community of your current customers, as well as tap into niche markets that will be looking to you for information.

Social sites are best used to increase word-of-mouth referrals. Make sure posts and comments are current, as well as relevant. Offer information that stimulates feedback; keep your posts popping up on your users’ page. Create informative conversations, getting users engaged and over time consistently building a message.

Don’t shy away from commenting on negative posts. Social media provides a huge advantage for customer service communication. Someone doesn’t like your service? Ask them why, and help them understand how you can help them!

To have your site viewed frequently, change pictures, update information and create links that stimulate interaction. This keeps your page changing while showing that you’re present.

Social sites should also be on brand with the rest of your marketing strategy. Your Facebook page should look similar to your website, which should resemble your printed materials. However, the content posted on Facebook might not be the same content posted on a company blog or on Twitter. Each site interacts with its audience in a different way.

When sharing articles, most people will not read much copy, unless you are a blog or news brand. To encourage others to read, use bait to generate interest. “This article offers five ways to increase income, here is one (then list one), click here to read the rest.” Bulleting helps readers find the details they are looking for. It also helps to provide links to other related information to help your consumer further their search.

Potential Pitfalls in Managing your Sites

Trying to sell things: the best way to get the most unlikes is by selling. Everyone knows your business is about your products or services. Social media sites allow you to be credible with a strong presence. Use your site to convince others that you are an expert in your field, so that when the time comes they will contact you. This is an opportunity to build a reputation using such sites as a tool to display creativity and knowledge.

Too many sites start with a bang and end with a whimper. If you are going to use sites to enhance your image, or, that of your business then work it. Information moves fast in today’s world, and you don’t want to start a site and then fail to keep up a consistent level of activity. Such sites make it difficult to see measured results quickly. Use them for what they can add to a more comprehensive marketing plan.

People are bombarded with information. Too many emails, increased contacts and technological options force business people to be more savvy with their time. Being careful about content is key to avoiding being deleted from social media sites because of outdated or unimportant information. Stay edgy, current and interesting. This means staying on top of trends in your industry and in marketing/social.

Business sites such as LinkedIn are huge within specific business settings. It’s a more targeted site where there is a sales environment. Using this type of site makes it less offensive to sell products and services, which is the reason for the site.

Some of LinkedIn’s features are social, with different intents. LinkedIn allows you to post relevant links and articles on its homepage, but it is strongest as a networking tool, or for job seekers/freelancers. Think speed dating, not long-term relationship.

As with any media, evaluate frequently what is working and what is not. It’s about starting strong, being consistent and remaining relevant. This is the beauty of online marketing – it is relatively low cost to use trial and error to find out what works for you..

Using Twitter, for example, short and sweet information is powerful. In just 140 characters, users learn how to say something meaningful using fewer words. Relative sound bites get attention.

Putting it in perspective: Statistics from Huffingtonpost.com

1 Million websites have integrated with Facebook
23% of users check Facebook 5 times or more daily
56% of customer tweets are being ignored
34% of marketers have generated leads on Twitter
Google’s +1 button is used 5 million times a day
Over 5 million are uploaded to Instagram every hour
80% of Pinterest users are female

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