Social media is an exciting and powerful new way to market your business. It's also challenging to implement, because you're dealing with a completely new set of rules. You can't just plug your content into Facebook or Twitter and expect it to get results. To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to understand how it works and what you're trying to achieve. This article will help you do both.
Social media marketing is still in its infancy. There are no hard-and-fast rules for success, much less a consensus on what makes for good business practice. That's why I'm going to spend the bulk of this article answering two questions:
1. Why should you use social media marketing?
2. What are the challenges you're likely to face when creating a social media marketing strategy?
Let's start with question 1. The answer is simple: because it's cheap, easy, and effective.
A lot of small businesses spend thousands of dollars on traditional advertising. They usually have little to show for it, though. I know. I used to work for a big ad agency, so I know how the system works. It makes me cringe to see all that money wasted. All those TV commercials, billboards, print ads, etc., etc.. . . Most companies are throwing their money away on expensive ads that don't pay off one bit. I know you don't want to be one of them.
Social media is different. It's cheap because you can do everything yourself without hiring anyone or spending a dime on advertising. And unlike traditional media, social media doesn't take money away from your bottom line; it adds value by building relationships with your customers and prospects, and establishing your brand as an authority in your industry.
Building relationships with your customers and prospects is the key to social media marketing success--but there's a problem: every day millions of people are logging onto Facebook and Twitter, and millions more are making new connections through social networks like LinkedIn and Google+. So where can you make your presence felt? How do you stand out from the crowd? Here's how: by giving people something they want--something they can use and enjoy and spread the word about through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter and Google+.
You give people something they want by engaging them in conversation--by sharing valuable information about your company and product or service that they'll find interesting and useful. Some of the most successful brands on the web do this through blogs and podcasts--and some do it with video blogs (vlogs). Others do it through interactive games and contests. Whatever kind of content you create, the goal is always to provide something valuable to your readers or listeners or viewers, so they'll come back for more and tell their friends about you and your products and services.
The secret is to think like a publisher: Think long term and focus on quality rather than quantity. Don't try to spam people into liking you on social media networks by flooding them with cheap, low-quality content. Instead, think about what you'd like to read or watch or listen to if you were a member of your target market. Then create that kind of content yourself.
That might seem like a lot of work--and it is--but remember: Social media marketing is cheap! It costs almost nothing in terms of start-up costs or ongoing management expense. You can run a full-scale social media campaign using only limited resources, which means you can start small and grow gradually over time as your audience grows with you--expanding the reach of your message without spending more money on advertising or hiring more employees.