Have you ever lost touch with a business acquaintance?
Do you want to know what others think about your customer service?
When you are hiring employees, would you like to increase the labour pool you are recruiting from?
If you answered yes to any of these, you need to know about social media marketing.
Social media refers to a group of online channels where communities exist to share content, such as ideas, information, entertainment, and even life’s moments.
You can follow, friend, link, share, promote, join, discuss, tweet, retweet, favourite, and more. Social media is all in the name of interactive communication. Social media exists because of Web 2.0, a development in the internet that allowed us to begin interacting easier.
Users and developers started using the internet differently, and social media was the beginning of these changes. There are several types of social media including wikis, bookmarks and networking.
We are going to focus on networking channels, which include Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Let us first look at why these channels are important in marketing and business.
First and foremost, social media channels are important because they can increase profits. How they do that depends on how they are used to market the company.
With the surge of mobile devices and access to the internet, it is almost impossible to have a business that is not on the internet.
And, if you are on the internet, the best way to communicate with the consumers is through social media channels. They give a business the following things:
24 hours access to consumers,
Businesses can communicate with, get feedback from, address complaints and build a trusting community with the public,
Advertising opportunity: Social media offers low cost ways to distribute coupons and other deals, market products and services, and distribute blogs and multimedia,
Ways to build business relationships: Online you can discuss partnerships and projects, building your community even more,
You need a marketing plan for your social networks. Your first step is to determine your budget and priorities.
If you are just starting out, you will want to put most of your investment into getting Twitter and Facebook accounts established. They are the most popular. Each social network offers different advantages when marketing.
Let us look at a few examples of what might work for different situations.
Examples of Social Media Marketing with Various Tools:
Let’s say that you work for a marketing firm and one of your clients is a jewellery company called “Gemz”. This is the first time Gemz is venturing into social media. What options do you have?
(1) Let’s start with Twitter. Twitter gives us 140 characters per tweet to build a brand. It is a fast-paced place to share quick morsels of information, and it is a good place for Gemz to start. For example, you want to take your time setting up the Gemz Twitter account. The Gemz history and mission should be in the Twitter background, the Gemz logo should be the thumbnail, and @GemzJewellery should be the Twitter name. This will make it easy to recognize Gemz. Quickly grabbing the attention of Gemz followers is where you want to concentrate your marketing efforts.
(2) Facebook is a community where you can “like” friends and follow companies. You want to create unique content for a Facebook account, but do not be afraid to use it to share information from your other social media channels and website. For those who choose to follow Gemz on Facebook, posts from the company will show in their newsfeed. It would be wise for Gemz to use its Facebook account to share posts that are more in-depth than Twitter will allow. For example, videos showing how to properly clean jewellery and pictures of new lines of jewellery can grab attention. Commenting on posts and always responding to comments will help Gemz grow its following. Facebook has over 850 million active users and 250 million photos are uploaded there daily which get 2.7 billion “likes” per day.
(3) Google+ is a useful social network because it combines features from Google services, like its most potential search engine. This gives Gemz a chance to improve its search engine ranking. This alone pays for a business to maintain a Google+ account. For example, Gemz could create Google+ circles for women’s and men’s jewellery. Once Gemz begins getting comments, shares and +1s, Gemz will move up in the Google search engine ranks. Google+ is a great way to market Gemz because the company can leverage al of Google’s products.
(4) LinkedIn is a social network designed for making professional linkages and creating business relationships. This is a good opportunity for Gemz to highlight unique services, link to its partners, and recruit future employees. For example, Gemz could use LinkedIn Showcase Pages to accentuate its jewellery cleaning and design branches. These pages are linked to the company page and are designed to feature niche services.
(5) Pinterest is a social network that Gemz can use to create and organize virtual pin-boards that include interesting pins. These pins are then shared with other Pinterest users. Most users look for images that are different and useful. Pinterest is a great opportunity for a jewellery company. Let’s say Gemz is interested in selling a line of holiday jewellery. Having pin-boards that showcase this jewellery are great. But, showing how to blend jewellery for the holidays would start a conversation, and this is what Gemz wants. Focussing on what makes Gemz unique will entice users to visit the Gems store and see the holiday jewellery in person.
(6) Blogger is another social media which Gemz can use to publish the blogs. Gemz can post a chronological publication of personal thoughts and links to help other budding jewellery start-ups. It is somewhat like a journal. Gemz would post regularly to their blog and develop an audience that follows its frequent publications. It can easily advertise its business and link its own company website for a wider reach. Over 150 million blogs exist online, and there are more than 1.5 million comments posted in blogs every day.
(7) Instant Messaging (IM) is another way for Gemz to conveniently connect with the clients. Chat allows for real-time interactive conversations over the internet. Some popular chats are AOL, Delphi Forums and Yahoo Messenger. Instant Messaging allows participants to create private channels. Gemz could add a chat feature to its company website where customers could ask questions and acquire information.
Although we have the opportunity to use other social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the most popular and powerful. These are where you want to get started. Each offers something different to a company like Gemz that is just beginning. Twitter and Facebook are musts for any company. You can even link them if you are short on personnel to maintain them separately. Google+ and Pinterest offer other ways to communicate with customers and create business relationships. Together, these will give you the tools you need to implement an effective social media marketing plan.
Finally, just recall the fact that social media is only one channel that can be used to market your business to specific target audience, but there are many more to consider. Social media marketing channels can be integrated into a broader marketing campaign that includes emailing customers and face-to-face promotion. Many businesses can benefit from a multi-faceted approach to marketing because it will reach a larger audience by using a variety of marketing channels. This will build larger client networks and loyal customer communities.