Monday, 5 March 2012

SMEs – It’s Time to Build Some Strategy Around Your Social Media Output

You don’t need to be told that your business should be engaged with the major social networks. The chances are you already have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+. You might even be the Mayor of your workplace on Foursquare. But this does not mean you have a social media strategy.

I meet with clients every day who tell me they want to utilize their social networks to greater effect but struggle to gain any real traction other than wasting their own time and, quite frankly, boring the life out of anyone daft enough to follow them.
In my experience there are four main reasons why an SME should want to engage in improving their social media activity. These are:
  • To distribute information about their company, products, service and wider industry as a whole and perhaps build their reputation as the go-to person or thought leader in their particular field of expertise.
  • To engage socially with existing customers and prospective clients in their own environment, field customer service issues and humanize your approach to business.
  • To recruit an army of virtual (unpaid) brand ambassadors who will not only help you sell your products or services but also field
  • To monitor sentiment towards your brand (and your competitors’ brands), glean new ideas and stay ahead of the game in terms of new developments in your industry.
To maximize your coverage across of these four points will take a little bit of planning and preparation but this shouldn’t put you off. Building a solid social media strategy is easier than you might think and will help stand the rest of your business’s marketing and PR efforts in good stead.
Eight Golden Rules for Building a Social Media Strategy
1.    Content is Still King: Concentrate on producing great blog posts, white papers, product-related landing pages, YouTube videos, etc. etc. before you begin trying to broadcast your opinion socially. There is a place for re-appropriating other people’s content via the social networks but it is only by broadcasting your own content that will validate your position as a thought leader.
2.    You Are NOT a Salesperson:  Even if you are a salesperson, take off your sales hat when you get social. Offer advice, strategy and opinion but don’t push for the sale. It’s all about building trust. When your audience trusts you, they will ask for the sale.
3.    Ignore Rule #2 (Very Occasionally): Of course you’re a salesperson. It’s OK to throw in the occasional sales promotion. Your followers will expect it. But try and add some value with some good conversation points around your offer or simply a great deal.
4.    Reward Your Friends and Followers: You don’t need to offer a financial incentive. How about giving them a first chance glimpse at your content giving them the (perceived) opportunity of first-mover advantage.
5.    Endorse Your Friends and Followers Opinion:  If you like what is being said about you, tell the world about it. Re-posting your friends and followers comments will be them feel important, connected and respected. The Follow Friday (#ff) hashtag on Twitter is an excellent mechanism for showing your social media contacts that you respect their opinion.
6.    Engage in Conversations: It’s called social media for a very good reason. Get social and enjoy the conversation. You should also be careful not to ignore any negativity towards you. Try and turn it around and show the world (a) you are human and (b) you are dedicated to ensuring the best possible customer experience for all your customers.
7.    Automate: Social media can be like quicksand, it can suck you in and before you know it, you have lost the day. Software (including iContact) can help you line up and schedule your posts so you can get on with more important tasks.
8.    Cross Pollinate: Integrate your social media strategies with everything else you do. Email marketing, SEO, landing page optimization, content marketing and even offline marketing techniques can all benefit with a little social input.

Photo: Dan Zen's


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