Well… it’s the next big thing, doncha know? It really is. Social media is currently unavoidable and is causing a storm in the marketing world. You can either stay in the dark ages or you can get with the times, and judging by the very real and impressive results some companies are getting, we would recommend the latter.
But there’s no point jumping on the bandwagon in a keeping up with the Jones’ kind of way. One of the reasons many strategies fail is because a company gets impatient, doesn’t take the time to think objectively about what they want to achieve and how they intend on doing it, then quickly lose focus when they don’t get the results they expect. Others become a little too obsessed with their Twitter interactions and forget about the actual work… As Buddha suggests, “Take the middle path.”
A good social media strategy requires a lot of thought and planning – you need to think about your goals, you need to include your entire company when embarking on this relatively new route to market, you need to prepare content and set aside time to put your aims into practice.
Because we all like a good list of top tips, let’s put it like this:
#1 – Social media is a MASSIVE opportunity for building your brand. Massive. MaHOOsive. Imagine a whole network of people orbiting around your business, getting included in the processes and feedback of your ideas, providing free advertising for you through the phenomenon of word-of-mouth, making your company into a familiar brand. Now, it won’t always work like this, but the opportunity is there. You can make a dent in your visibility and increase the stretch of your marketing campaign’s arms by reaching the largest amount of customers possible through the various platforms of social media – a reach that is incomparable to what you have been doing before.
#2 – Social media has a place for everyone. Where do you belong? Well try out Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Scribd or a gazillion more of the social media platforms out there. Have a good browse, there are many subject specific niche sites which may focus your results more effectively, such as Hugg (ahhh) for environmental issues, Kirsty for fashion and design, Sphinn for search and interactive marketers, Tweako for guides and tutorials and Autospies for, you guessed it, everything automotive. And there is a ton more if you just look – some are not very well publicised, some are not very active, but hey, it’s up to you to find the best forum for your content.
#3 – Social media is a cheaper alternative to traditional advertising. It takes narry a penny to set up accounts for email, a blog, or any of the sites listed in #2. It takes man power and man hours to manage, but very little, if anything, to maintain. There are tools to help things work more smoothly and integrate all your different areas of networking which charge for services, but it is possible to run a social media campaign for next to nothing. You are reaching your targeted demographic (and beyond) for the price of your broadband…
#4 – Social media allows you to see what your clients are saying about you. It’s no secret that posting certain opinions on social media sites has got people into trouble with bosses, spouses, friends and the law, but a bit of honesty is extremely healthy for marketing. People hang up the minute they realise there’s a market researcher calling, yet they’ll freely publicise their opinions on products and services online. In fact, most people jump at the chance to give their two pennies’ worth. As long as you respond to bad feedback in a productive and professional way, you can use this information to increase your offerings based on cold hard facts, and end up giving your customers exactly what they want.
#5 – Social media makes us all equal. Social media has a great levelling power. If you’re a little local business, trying to branch out into the big bad world of the web – great, you can achieve much wider popularity than just advertising in your home town, doing what you do best, providing great personalised services. If you’re a fat cat company, struggling with a public face like a blank wall – great, you can interact with your customers on a personal level, make yourselves accessible and friendly and show the world you’re not just a corporate suit. The fact that everyone from your little niece to your doddery granny is getting online and getting involved with social media means that everyone has a voice, and everyone has an opportunity to be friends. Ah, isn’t that nice? Now go sell yourself.