So Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google Plus are all the buzz in small business circles. You feel a little left out and want to get a piece of the pie for your small business. Where do you start, and so-called overnight social media experts are popping up everywhere to offer advice. Before you blindly accept mediocre advice, here are 5 things to remember for your social media business marketing plan.
1. Social media isn't the latest marketing fad. It's easy to get trapped in the craze and hype surrounding the benefits of social networks for business, but realize that the online marketing landscape has drastically changed from simple email blasts, newsletters, and direct marketing. Social media is the most effective way to reach your audience now, and the biggest of the social networks Facebook and Google Plus are revamping their platforms to cater to businesses like never before. Get in line and establish your small business presence very early to build up followers, fans, and fellow business owners in your social circle. Refuse to establish your new business presence in social media and you might eventually head the way of the dinosaurs.
2. Build Quality not Quantity of Followers - It's so easy to fall into the trap of accepting anybody that sends you a friends or follower request, but does it make sense to network to a crowd of just anybody? Absolutely not. In real life you wouldn't put up a billboard to attract beer drinkers if you want to attract fine wine customers. As you make the rounds between Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter, you'll be bombarded by people from every industry who have nothing in common with your niche. You don't have to accept them. In fact it's in your best interest not to. Find your "like minded" companies and entrepreneurs and build your following and social marketing around them.
3. Aim to turn followers into your regular business site users - What's the point of building quality amount of social media followers if you can't convince them to use your website, products, or services. As in any situation the 80/20 rule applies here. If social media is your main channel of marketing, a good 20 percent of external fans and followers will eventually make up 80 percent of your loyal site users. For that to happen you must first position yourself as an expert in your niche. Experts are more trusted and followed wherever they go. Your experience and credentials must match your claim to expertise. People follow and trust me for business advice, because I've run small businesses for over 10 years. I do speaking engagements, and build free online business marketing tools (Here's my public profile across all social media, blogs, and forums). Engage with your followers, relate to them by letting them know who you are. Offer sensible answers, and provide help. Your conversion rate from networking friends to loyal website users will be much greater.
4. Never pay for building social media friends and followers - Business owners new to the game of social media can be tempted to use so-called "social media experts" who guarantee thousands of followers and networking friends instantly for a price. Don't be duped into this, most of these people pop up overnight looking for a quick buck. Just because someone has a lot of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and Google Plus followers doesn't make them an expert. Besides social media is free, you should never specifically pay to get friends and followers only, except in situations where you pay for an SEO campaign which automatically includes social media marketing. Remember social media serves as a means to promote your business's external branding. You can't use it as a metric for measuring your marketing success. 100,000 external followers doesn't signal successful marketing, your number of regular business website users and customers do.
5. Business Relationships Matter - Just like building an email list, sending out monthly newsletters, and thank you cards, social media is about building relationships. The tools are made for the simplest person to understand and use. However you must never neglect to keep the human interaction in your campaign Another article I wrote on list building relationships goes more indepth. After you build online business relationships, stay in touch with those people through one-on-one postings and emails. Also use social video channels to let them see and hear you in action as opposed to static posts and emails alone. The core concept of marketing still hasn't changed, it's always about the people. With common sense and dedication, social media will definitely help you reach your marketing campaign goals.