You hear about them every day, all your friends use them and you might even use them yourself… Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FlickR, YouTube, … Social media have become a part of our (virtual) lives. But what about your business?
Is it time to add social media to your marketing mix? If you think the answer is “Yes” then the next question is: “Where do I start? In this post I’m going to give you a few keys to develop your company’s social media strategy.
Deciding to dive into social media marketing is a bit like deciding to buy a new dog. When we buy a new puppy we’re all exited and we want to play with him but in reality bringing home that puppy is a big commitment and is time consuming. That is why before buying the puppy or jumping into social media to advertise your business, you should ask yourself if you have the ressources to handle it?
A good way to find out is to organize a meeting with your managing staff in order to elaborate a social media strategy.
1# Determine your final goal
Be it finding more distributors for your products then you will focus on developping relationships with your Western partners and distributors; be it promoting your products then you will focus on establishing a dialogue with your final consumers; be it finding inspiration for new product development then you’ll try to interact with creative people and communities.
Try to set specific objectives that can be measured and decide how much time and money you want to dedicate to social media.
2# Find your audience
There’s a vast literature about finding an audience, I’m not going to tackle this issue here, I’ll just summarize it in three action points:
- Make a list of keywords and phrases related to your business
- Make a list of social media sites where you think you can meet your audience (start with the most popular: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Blogs)
- Go to these social media sites and do some searching about your keywords
At this stage you should have a good idea of where your audience is and what media they use.
3# Study your audience
To be successful with social media marketing you’ll have to get rid of old habits like sending the same message to a large group of potential clients. Focus on finding the people who are already talking about your message and try to join the conversation. Try to spot the influencers and listen to what they are talking about.
4# Join the conversation and develop your network
The rule is to provide valuable content, bring something new and useful. The objective is to build relationships, create your network. Post comments on blogs and forums, answer questions on Yahoo! and LinkedIn, join groups related to your industry, “like” and comment on Facebook pages related to your business, share interesting links, join Twitter chats, … there are so many ways in which you can interact.
Try to always remember these basic principles:
- Don’t speak if you have nothing to say
- Find a voice and stick to it, that is the tone you use to reach your audience
- Be regular at bringing content (once a day / 3 times a day / 5 times a day)
- Don’t be a product pusher, leave the commercial aside for a moment. Socialize and become an influercer by bringing relevant and valuable content.
5# Build your company’s social media mix
Now that you are familiar with the different social media and you start to have a little influence in your niche market, it’s time to establish your own media. Choose the platforms that fits you most, or the ones where your audience is and create your presence. It could be a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube Channel, … or all of the above like in Shared Interest’s example.
If you opt for a variety of media, be sure to cross reference them. That is to set connections between all of them so that it is easy to click from one to the other. Once you are all set with creating your media, attract your network to it. Again, don’t be too pushy, lure them by creating interesting and relevant content.
6# Measure the results and adapt your strategy
This is not a game, remember? It is really important to measure your Return On Investment (ROI) in social media. Make sure you determine your key metrics when you set your objectives. I recommend picking three solid metrics to track (sales, number of new good contacts, new partnerships, brand visibility in major search engines, …). A good aproach is to work with a timeline: create and manage a timeline of every significant activity undertaken in social media by your company. Compare the evolution of your 3 key metrics using the same timeline. Don’t hesitate to adapt and improve your strategy if you don’t see any results. Only experimenting will you understand what works and what doesn’t.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Becoming good at social media takes time. Patience is the golden rule. So are you gonna fall for that new puppy?