From a business perspective, most people approach Social Media with the sole objective of finding prospects for their products or services. Marketing aside, there are however several other ‘Uses’ that may help you with your online activities.
It’s vital before taking action, that you get a feel for Social Media, and then develop a plan that is manageable…i.e. make the best use of your time!
Market Research: Can you use Social Media platforms to provide the demographics of your ‘Perfect Prospect’? Can you use ‘Surveys’ to gather further information and insights?
Online Exposure: Content marketing tactics can gain exposure for your business that previously you could only dream about without a very deep advertising ‘Pocket’. If your ‘Content’ is picked up by journalists and bloggers, the effect can be multiplied many times over!
Credibility: Does your content provide proof that you know what you are talking about? ...maybe leading to the coveted ‘Expert Status’ level…do you answer questions on sites like Yahoo Answers? Be helpful whenever you can!
Social Proof: Social Media provides a number of ways that you can use ‘Social Signals’ to further enhance your ‘Credibility’. A number of ‘Facebook Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ not only enhance your SEO efforts, but also send positive messages out to your prospects!
Author authority is now an essential factor for getting ranked on Google’s front page.
Sales: Ecommerce sites like Dell have generated millions of dollars by innovative uses of Twitter. They simply post details of their ‘Special Offers’, of new and used models, along with a ‘Special Discount’ for their Twitter followers, and wait for the money to roll in!
Can you come up with any promos, contests or discounts to make more sales?
Customer Service: Many companies use sites like Twitter and Facebook solely as a platform for providing customer service. Dell are said to be experimenting with the ‘Hangouts’ feature of Google Plus, this will enable them to use video chat and video conferencing to communicate with their customers. The possibilities are enormous!
Transport companies, for example Virgin Trains, use their Twitter feeds to respond immediately to questions or complaints about their services. This ‘Human Touch’ undoubtedly increases customer retention.
Product Development: Do you ask for feedback from you Social followers that could lead you to improving your products or services? What better source of new ideas and innovation could you have?
Small businesses can gain a competitive advantage over their larger brothers by reacting faster, and finding and fulfilling smaller niches.
Communications: Social Media provides any number of ways to connect with your prospects and customers directly or indirectly. Getting ‘In Touch’ and keeping ‘In Touch’ has never been easier. Sites that enable comments make it possible for ‘Micro-conversations’ to be initiated. Who knows where they may lead? Discover ‘Thought Leaders’ in your market and join in their ‘Conversations’.
Branding: Social Media platforms are simply the fastest and most effective way to ‘Get your Brand’ out there! When you focus on the Content that you publish…the marketing takes care of itself…
Can you start building a Community around your Brand?
Brand Tracking: Easily find out what ‘Conversations’ are going on about your ‘Brand’, and nip any problems in the proverbial bud.
Trend Tracking: Watch ‘Trends’ unfold across the Social Platforms, and turn them to your advantage.
Networking: If you are in the B2B market, sites like LinkedIn provide endless opportunities to increase your network and generate more business. Make connections!
Advertising: Old media such as newspaper ads, and print directories such as Yellow Pages, have now been replaced by online advertising. Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and a multitude of other sites now offer a quick and simple way to find customers. They do need to be approached with caution however, as there is a learning curve to be surmounted before you achieve value for money. If ‘Paid Advertising’ is part of your plan, you’ll find that most products or services can be promoted on the Social sites. However you will need to compare your results with keyword driven ads on the traditional PPC platforms like Google and Bing.
Search Engine Optimization: By definition, widespread distribution of your content will provide ‘Backlinks’ to your ‘Offers’ or ‘Webpages’…an essential ingredient of ‘Off-page SEO’. Social Media also provides ways to gain ‘Social Proof’… Likes, Retweets etc., the NEW ranking factor in Google and Bing.
And so to Marketing:
There are many branches to the ‘All Powerful’ Social Media Marketing tree! Before embarking on a campaign, carefully consider what content is likely to catch the attention of your prospects, who will then generate a ‘Buzz’ for it all over the Internet. Think outside the box!
Then consider the distribution and promotional channels available. Online video is now the #1 strategy for ‘Getting Found’ online. Short promotional videos widely distributed can work wonders for you. People now expect audio and visuals.
Blogging platforms or Facebook Notes are great depositories for your content.
Social News sites like Digg, Social Bookmarking sites like Delicious, and Micro-blog platforms like Twitter and Identica, are all great places to announce your content to the world.
Networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can be brought into the equation, not only to announce your content, but also to build the all-important ‘Know, Like and Trust’ factor. This ‘Relationship Building’ can have a huge payback!
You do need to use the Social Media platforms correctly. Each site has its own etiquette and set of rules…it is well worth the time to discover them before diving in. I suppose the main ‘No-No’ on the ‘Networking’ sites in particular, is direct pitching…people want to be social first, before deciding whether they want to do business with you…Nobody loves a spammer!
Bottom Line: To promote your business online, you need TRAFFIC and SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS…Social Media Platforms are a GREAT place to start!
What is the most important use of the Social Media Platforms to you?
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Roger Hurley is the co-creator of ContentBuzz.com, the leading video promotion and social proof building service.
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