There are quite a few ways to capitalize on social media if you choose to include it in your overall marketing strategy. Guest writer David Bakke suggests 5 simple social media strategies.
When it comes to marketing your small business, the first thing you need to understand is that a strategy devoted solely to social media is bound to fail. Engaging with potential customers on Twitter and setting up a business Facebook page are certainly viable options, but they should not be viewed as end-all, be-all venues.
The most effective marketing strategy for any small business involves incorporating social media into your plan without it being your only source. Having said that, there are quite a few ways to capitalize on social media in order to effectively reach your target market. Here are some simple social media strategies you can use as part of your overall marketing mix:
1. Diversify and Consolidate
Twitter and Facebook are no longer your only options for cost-free social media marketing, as sites such as reddit, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and LinkedIn can all be utilized to drive traffic to your website. However, each of these sites has a unique posting process and audience, so you'll need to test and adapt accordingly.
2. Post Often
To effectively reach your audience, post daily - or at least several times per week. Uploading a link to your social network accounts only once per week is not going to generate any kind of a buzz. Potential customers who see that you are consistently providing them with valuable tips and relevant information are more likely to purchase your product or service.
3. Be Creative
Social networking websites are glutted with others trying to do the exact same thing that you are. To stand out from the pack, you'll need to be clever and original. An eye-grabbing logo and design doesn't hurt either.
For instance, when I was promoting the sale of my personal finance book, one technique I employed to generate interest was to post articles of a contrarian nature, such as "Reasons Why You Should Never Save For Retirement." Such titles that seem counter-intuitive tend to garner more notice than more generic pieces, or those that fall in line with the consensus of the majority. In my experience, the response to these articles was lively and engaged.
4. Interact With Your Audience
Interaction with your audience can be fairly time consuming, but it is a necessary component of a successful social media marketing strategy. If you post a link, article, tip, or piece of advice and someone comments or poses a question in response, you should definitely respond, and do it in a timely fashion. If they've taken the time to comment on your update, opening a dialogue is the first step to gaining them as a customer.
However, you'll have to closely manage your social media accounts to keep track of all comments. Therefore, you will want to activate the "email updates" function for each website so you'll be immediately notified when comments are posted. Also set up Google Alerts for your name and business name so you can see what people are saying about you across the web.
5. Track Your Progress
As with any marketing initiative, it's important to track your progress and success rate so you know what works and what doesn't.
One tool you need to have, especially if you have a business website and blog, is Google Analytics. Setting up an account is easy, and, among many features, it allows you to see how many unique visits and page views you receive on a daily basis, as well as where the traffic is coming from. This type of tracking tool is a must to gauge the effectiveness of your online marketing plan.
Once you've analyzed the data, utilize it to take action and increase productivity in your business. If certain social media websites do not generate significant traffic, see what you can do differently or eliminate them from your marketing strategy in favor of others.
It's important to institute well-grounded, down-to-earth strategies regarding your social media presence. Don't think that having 2,000 or 20,000 followers on Twitter and a large amount of Facebook "likes" will translate into overnight success. Use your social media networks effectively and intelligently, and remember that, ultimately, providing your target market with a quality product or service that they desire and need is a sure way to see success with any small business venture.
What are some other social media marketing strategies that you've found to be effective for you and your business?
David Bakke is a contributor to MoneyCrashers, focusing on business and financial topics.
Social Media image courtesy of Shutterstock