Word of mouth can make or break a business. It is the one area that businesses have only limited control over and ensuring your business has a positive image is crucial.
Social Networking sites have boomed in recent years and it is in this area that businesses can tap into a vital source of free advertising and market knowledge. Through understanding what people think about your company or products, what your competitors offer and what the current trends are you can represent your company as being a market leader in brand and knowledge building a credibility and trust between you and your audience.
People are now able to talk, listen and express themselves at the touch of a button and numerous networking sites have popped up as a forum for people to express their views in. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Yelp are just the tip of the iceberg, managing business profiles as well as the company’s website and blog is a labour intensive task and a social media strategy is an essential tool to effectively tracking, engaging and monitoring your business’ online presence.
If you are able to dedicate the time to creating your own online social media strategy then there are 5 main points to consider:
Who are your customers?
You need to consider what target group your customers fall into and what networking sites that group uses. There is no point dedicated time to advertising your company on a social networking site mainly used by Amercians if you solely trade in the UK.
Ask existing customers where they network by setting up a poll on your website or sending a quick survey out.
Where are your competitors?
Next look to where your direct competition are set up and if they get much public response. Look at what sites they have active profiles on, what content they are publishing and what feedback they have got by looking at number of group members/fans/page views etc.
Use your online profiles to offer specific online incentives. This will not only help you track how successful your online campaign is but also encourage other users to discuss your offer online creating the potential for an unlimited amount of public awareness of your company.
Don’t get pushy
Don’t treat your social media profile as a medium for a hard sell. By setting yourself up as an expert on a particular area and offering the public useful information to the public you will create a positive company image that will convert itself into sales without a hard core selling drill that will ultimately turn people away. Offer the public a way in which they can engage with your company whether through hot topic polls or by creating interesting posts about industry specific news and developments. Post videos to your profile showing what you do to give your company a €face€.
Underestimating the sheer workload involved in online marketing is dangerous €” not only do you have to create an initial profile on all your networking sites but then you actually have to engage with your audience by posting interesting items and responding to interest. You should also be browsing other conversations / groups that you could join in with, posting updated content and photos and sharing news.
If you don’t think you can dedicate the time or you have a particular product to launch – One easy solution to keeping on top of your social media marketing is using a social media management company that will help manage outbound and inbound engagements. These companies specialise in monitoring feedback from your various online presences, update your profile and organise specific marketing campaigns for the launch of a new product or idea. Packages they offer vary and prices are reasonable meaning that even the smallest company can get the professional help they need to creating a successful online presence.
By Kevin Jones