Everyone's at it, every pundit and commentator's telling us that social media is the big thing we all need to be into to succeed. And with Google increasingly focusing on real-time content from Twitter, Facebook and other social sites, social media is set to get even bigger in 2010.
But how can your business benefit? Maybe you're on facebook or twitter yourself, or you're an early adopter of Google Wave. Chances are though that it's all about your social and personal life. It's a good idea to keep business and pleasure separate, for both your privacy and professionalism.
It's pretty easy to set up a twitter account or facebook page for your company, to post youtube video clips, contribute to or set up discussion boards and run a blog. The hard part is finding ways for them to help your business grow. The whole point of social media is that it's immediate and up to date, so if you're not regularly adding content and info, or commenting on current issues, you're not likely to achieve much.
The trick is to treat these media like any other channel. Get over that feeling that they're gimmicks, or for teenagers. The research tells a different story. The average age of twitter and facebook users tends to be late 30s. These days, most consumers and professionals are technology savvy to some degree and share the expectation of having info right at their fingertips whenever they want it, and being able to get in touch in the most convenient way at that moment.
So, don't skimp on skill or planning. Handling your social media is like any campaign: you need to keep your key messages in mind and have interesting angles and approaches to attract attention. Come up with topics to tweet about so you have something new to focus on each day or week, have a programme of info, pictures and updates for your facebook page, and get input from all around your business - from the MD to product developers. It's all about building and cementing your reputation and brand: showing that you're knowledgeable and up to speed with key topics, being responsive to customers and building up goodwill with current and future customers.
A great way to attract fans and followers is to run competitions or giveaways through your social media channel. Offer a bottle of champagne to the writer of the best caption on a picture, ask for tips in an area of expertise. If there's an incentive, however small, your followers are more likely to let their associates know about you, so you'll gain more interest. Make sure you can handle a large response if you do this - take-up rates are not as predictable in social media, and sometimes things can take off in a way you'd never have expected.
Seek views as well as pushing out your own. You can learn about new developments, hear how customers react to your products and take the opportunity to correct misconceptions or turn dissatisfied customers around. On twitter, set up searches so you'll know whenever your business or product is mentioned, so you can respond to or join in with relevant discussions. Carry out some research amongst your customers and suppliers to find out which discussion boards or forums they use and contribute helpfully to queries and debates.
Take a look at our top social media tips below:
- Set up one or more twitter accounts for your business separately from any personal twitter activity
- Keep a steady but useful flow of comments and info going out through your social media
- Add interest and currency to your website with feeds of your business tweets or status updates
- Seek input as well as putting out your messages
- you are part of a community and the communication is two way
- Competitions and freebies are a great way to attract followers and fans
- Keep an eye out for the next big thing, social media-wise
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Geoff Hocking is Creative Head of Breathe Marketing and has over 30 years experience in marketing and design. Download his FREE paper on Web 2.0 - what does it mean for your business? - go now to www.breathe4u.com/web2.html
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