If having a website establishes credibility and provides information to potential customers, integrating social media into your online mix is all about building strong relationships with your customers, other businesses, and building loyalty, brand awareness and establishing your online “voice” as an expert in your field.
Think carefully about how you’re going to use Social Media, what for and how you’re going to carve out time to dedicate to it before you dive in, because it’s not a “miracle”, it won’t drive traffic to your business unless you engage with your fans and followers in a way that is fun, informative, continual. Similar to having a website, you can’t set up and forget and expect people to beat a path to your door.
6 Essential Elements to begin your Social Media Strategy
1. Define your goal
Will you be offering customer services, information, hint and tips, focusing on customer acquisition, brand awareness or public relations, offering expert advice? It can’t be everything because it will produce unfocused results.
How are you going to measure the results? Monitoring can give you detailed information about what people are saying about your brand, who is saying it, details of the demographics of your social media following and even what people are saying about your competition. The right data allows you to capitalise on the conversation and focus your messages.
3. Choose your communication platforms
Each platform is focused on a different demographic. Will it be Facebook, Twitter, a blog, Linked in, a Google profile? How will they inter-connect without spreading duplicate content across the internet?
Understand there is a connection between social media on a local level (on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), your local listings (Google Places), and SEO. Social results are now fully integrated within the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) on both Google and Bing, and Google is using this data as one of its many ranking factors. Encourage people to review and comment on your Google Places listing as well as the other platforms you end up using.
4. Define a voice
Will you be informative, humorous or serious? What language will your market respond to? Making the correct choice and implementing it well will draw in and engage your followers.
5. Your time
It takes much more of a commitment than setup and forget it. Customers come to expect timely responses to their posts and queries. Keeping the conversation going and fully engaging with your followers will be a significant opportunity to learn and respond to the views and preferences of your customers. Do you have the time to dedicate to updating and monitoring your pages constantly?
6. Make your information SHARABLE
Offer value each and every time you post. Reward loyalty with discounts and special offers, run competitions (read the rules on Facebook before you set anything up or risk Facebook removing your content), promote and share content which is likely to be of interest to your followers (“Top 10 X’ or ‘How to Y’ are both good formats that work well). Use Question Polls and start conversations, offer expert advice instead of being seen as pushy selling or self-promotion.
The foremost mistake I see repeated everywhere is seeing the emphasis on self-promotion. Broadcasting how great you are instead of providing useful and fun content and engaging with your fans/followers is a no-no, they’ll ditch you!
You need to give your audience compelling (and fun) reasons to visit your website, blog or Facebook pages.