You’re officially on the social media bandwagon: everyone has told you that your brand “needs” to be on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera. So you’ve set up profiles on each. But now what? You have no clue what you need to do to successfully use social media to get more customers.
With a few tips (provided here), you can effectively figure out why you’re on social media (not just because everyone else is) and how to use it.
1. Why Are You Here?
Many businesses set up social media accounts simply because they don’t want to be left behind, but then, with no direction, they soon abandon their accounts. It’s important to decide on a social media strategy before you dive in. Your strategy might be:
– To reach your target market where they hang out (Twitter or Facebook)
– To provide an additional channel or two to extend your reach to new customers
– To participate in ongoing conversations with consumers
– To build your brand
– To get feedback on your products and brand
Once you’ve decided what your aim is with social media, you can start building your empire.
2. Now Get a Plan
Social media works best when it’s done consistently – not haphazardly. Plan for you (or an employee or freelancer) to update your Twitter, Facebook and any other sites at least 3 days a week — more if you can.
You don’t have to spend a great deal of time on it daily — even just 15 minutes a day can get you connected to more and more people, and help you build trusting relationships.
As far as what to Tweet or post to your Facebook Page:
– Share links to your blog posts and other relevant articles and content
– Ask questions to start dialogue
– Get involved in other conversations
– Share special offers with followers
Keep a good balance of these types of posts; you don’t want to put out a steady stream of links to your blog or promotions, or people will tune you out. You know you’re doing a good job when people start to retweet what you have on Twitter and begin engaging with you.
On Facebook, share as much as you’ve got: photos of products or your office, videos of how to use products, RSS feeds from your blog and anything else that can keep a visitor on your page longer.
3. Dive In
Don’t be afraid to get started; you can’t do it “wrong!” Start by searching for people on Twitter or Facebook who are talking about something that relates to your industry. For instance, if you make cloth diapers, search “cloth diapers” to find mothers talking to one another about the benefits of cloth over disposable. Follow these people, and jump in the conversation where appropriate.
On Facebook, join groups that relate to your industry. If you produce organic food, join any groups of people who love organic food. Don’t jump in as a company first — give some of your knowledge on the topic by sharing links about dangers of pesticides or respond to other people’s question.
Remember: your goal is to build trust, not to make a sale. Once people welcome you into the fold of their communities, you’ll see the sales come.
Aim to add at least 10 people to your following list each day. Organize them (on Twitter) by creating different groups that tie to your different target markets, or just other industry leaders.
Tips and Tricks
– Use a Twitter program like HootSuite to manage different channels and schedule Tweets to publish throughout the day if you can’t schedule them in real time (you might have other things to do!).
– Use TwitterFeed to automatically publish a link to your most recent blog post when it goes live. It’s a great time saver.
– Use one of the many RSS apps on Facebook to send your blog posts to your Page.
– Add a “share this” widget to your blog post template so that anyone can easily share a post via social media or social bookmarking sites.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and blogs for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends and Lead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.