Friday, February 17, 2012

Social Media for Business


*This is Part 1 of a 5 Part series on actionable ways to successfully use social media for business.

Social Media for Business

Social Media Marketing 101
First, let's make sure we're all on the same page. This article outlines the basics of Social Media for business. There are some fundamentals that need to be addressed before I can get more involved. In the next few articles, I will dig deeper into social media measurement and how to use specific sites like Facebook and Pinterest.

Why Social Media?
I've been asked lot of questions regarding how social media is being used, and if it is worth the time. 
Social media is great for 5 aspects of business:
  1. Customer retention-- Keeping past and current customers. It costs a lot less to retain a customer than to earn a new one.
  2. Brand advocacy-- Getting current customers to promote your products or brand for “free”.
  3. Customer/tech support-- allow them to ask questions in a public forum without the hassle of automated phone systems, and bring it to their personal email if necessary. This can show publicly that you care about how your customers use your products.
  4. “Top-of-funnel” activities-- This includes branding, product discovery, and awareness
  5. Learning more about your customers
Social Media in the business realm:
A recent study published by Nielsen, one of the leading market research companies in the world, based on data from the 3rd Quarter of 2011 (“State of Social Media”) highlights some key social media statistics:
  • Adults that are active on social media are 12% more likely to purchase products online.
  • Socially engaged consumers spend 20-40% more than other customers!!
  • 53% of active social networkers follow a brand. Consumers follow your brand to learn more about your products and your brand on a personal level. Other consumers “follow” a social media page to get discounts.
  • 37% of online consumers access social media via mobile devices.
In other words: You need to create a social media marketing plan!

Getting Started with Social Media
The key to marketing, whether social media or otherwise, is really, really knowing your customers, and knowing where your products fit into their lives. This will help you decide which social media to use, how to interact with customers, and pretty much everything else in your business. To make matters more exciting, social media will help you to learn your customers even better.

Just to give you something actionable, here is a list of social media websites that everyone needs to join right away:
  • Facebook: almost all active internet users have a personal Facebook page.
  • Google+: This is important for search engine ranking and content authorship
  •  Yelp, and pretty much any relevant review site: Online shoppers read reviews and research even inexpensive products before purchase these days.
  • Any type of blog: for permanent online content, and a hub for all business content
Other Social Media sites:
  • Pinterest: if your customer base is mainly women, DIY, event planning, or (surprisingly) tech.
  • Twitter: if your customer base has anything to do with celebrities, is between ages 16-22, or tech industry professionals or marketers
  • Myspace: if your brand is music-based
  • LinkedIn: business professionals
  • Instagram: if you have a mobile presence and an image-based plan
  • Other industry-specific social media site

Social media is where you can (and should) create, and bring out, your “brand personality.” This will make your brand more personable, likeable to your customers, and easier to engage with. In the following parts of this series, I'll go over how to use the most important sites in more detail.

Note: Never purchase “likes.” Although this will increase the amount of people on your social media site, these are likely not people that would ever purchase your products. Fewer, qualified fans is always better than more, irrelevant fans. I recommend Facebook's PPC ads for the initial fan boost. Make sure you spell out in layman's terms exactly how you will manage your interaction with customers (on your Facebook's Welcome Tab for example), and you are more likely to get high-quality “likes” or followers.


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