People are social creatures who love to share things, from family news, photos and recipes to bad service experiences and great offers. It is not surprising that Facebook has become the most-visited website, sharing is quick and easy on Facebook. According to statistics from Double Click (a subsidiary of Google) Facebook reached one trillion page views in June 2011, that's a lot of eyeballs on a lot of shares! Just take a look at Google Double Click Ad Planner for more information – http://www.google.com/adplanner/static/top1000/ (this is one of my favourite sites, huge amounts of information).
A savvy business owner does not overlook social media or ignore it.
Social media marketing is becoming just as important as search engine marketing. In fact, the top search engines, Google and Bing, recently announced that social media influence has become an important factor in ranking search engines, we'll discuss this a bit more further down this post.
A savvy business owner understands that social media is part of their marketing mix, not all of their marketing budget should be spent on online tools, techniques and conversations. A blend of marketing techniques will be part of a healthy marketing strategy.
While social media marketing offers a great deal of benefits to your business, you should keep in mind that it is about building connections and establishing relationships more than anything else, and by anything else I mean selling. Brian Solis, the author of “Engage,” a book on how to use social media to succeed in business, says, “Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.”
When you use social media to promote your business, remember that you are going to deal with human beings with thoughts, feelings and the ability to grow or crush your business.
It is important for you to have genuine empathy with your connections and to show that you really care about people. That can be tough if you are not a social person. If you cannot do this, get someone in who can – outsource anything you are not comfortable with, whilst this is not ideal it's better than screwing up and damaging your reputation.
Remember that people would rather interact with a real person than with a business. Being authentic is an absolute must but being authentic doesn't mean giving away your business secrets or telling people that a certain book is better than Fifty Shades of Grey. It doesn't mean you have to update Facebook every time you eat, although a good food image can start a great conversation.
Being authentic means
- Allowing people to get to know you.
- When you create your profile, use your real name and photos of you and not your logo
- It means giving advice when asked.
- It means listening first…
Know how you can best help the people within your network and you will win their hearts and minds. Give before expecting to get anything. In fact, you should often give without expecting anything in return, and gosh that is hard. I have clients that can't get over the fact that they have to give away advice and smile whilst doing so :). If you look at the Pinterest and Offline Business post (ok, it's not one of my strongest) you'll see in exchange for a social share you can have a copy of my Pinterest for Business Guide for free. I give away Checklists, Calenders, mini-ebooks to my newsletter subscribers and that means I have a very low unsubscribe rate and a good, strong open rate.
While people may not always buy from you, you build “social capital” which will prove to be valuable in the long run, I have a lot of people forward my newsletter to friends increasing exposure to me and my business. You will be seen as a contributor and as someone who actually cares, a member of the community. People will trust you and support you.
Understanding Social Media and Its Benefits
Social media marketing is an off-site marketing strategy that seeks to build an online community centered on your business and aims to bring traffic to your blog or website. It makes use of popular social media marketing sites such as Facebook and Twitter. You begin by setting up accounts with these social media sites and building an attractive profile and adding content to your page. Then you invite people to connect with you by becoming your friend or follower or liking your page. Remember – people get a whole heap of these requests on a daily basis, you need to tell them what's in it for them and incentivise them to take action.
Sharing is an important aspect of social media marketing. People just love sharing photos, videos, stories, jokes, news and other pieces of information. If you share some great content on the social media site, other people are likely to share your content with the people within their network. This means that your social media profile will get more exposure and more people will likely join your social network.
Building an online community is also an important part of a social media marketing campaign. You should encourage those who liked your page on Facebook or followed you on Twitter to interact with you and with others.
You can do this by starting discussions.
- People love to share their thoughts and feelings
- Asking questions
- Post thought-provoking and emotional topics.
- You should actively encourage people to ask questions.
As mentioned above, social media influence is now an important ranking factor to Google and Bing. You can take advantage of this fact by publishing some content on your website and sharing the link on your social media profile or page. The stronger the content, the most useful, the funniest will have the potential to become viral, everyone shares a funny video or a funny joke. People bookmark useful information. This all drives traffic back to your blog or website.
Viral content are often useful, unique, funny and/or inspiring among other things. Every time the link to your content is posted on a social media website, the search engines get a “social signal.” This helps improve your site's ranking on search engines.
Good Communication Skills is a Must
You cannot underestimate the importance of good communication skills in social media marketing. To build good relationships with people, you need to be able to communicate effectively. Clarity and conciseness are two things that you should always aim for every time you communicate with the people in your network.
Keep in mind that you always need be straight to the point. Why? People do not have the time and the patience to sift through words just to understand what you are trying to say. Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet you'll soon learn to get your point across in as few words as possible.
Also, remember that good grammar and spelling are important but not life and death. You certainly want to come across as somebody who is intelligent. Otherwise, people will doubt what you have to say. However, this does not mean to say that you have to use big words and sound like someone you are not, if you are starting to sound like Frasier Crane and you are not him, then you are in trouble.
Use plain English, but mind your grammar and spelling. Remember, a typo will be forgiven, consistent typos make you look sloppy.
People use acronyms and abbreviations online, but do not assume that everyone can understand them, it's a bit like industry jargon. However, if you must use acronyms and abbreviations, learn which ones are acceptable on Twitter and other social media platforms. If you are not sure on what works and what doesn't then start some conversations around them. LinkedIn groups would be a good starting point for this.
If you focus on building relationships first, selling will almost be effortless.
Social media marketing can help your business grow exponentially. However, you must remember that it is more about building relationships than selling. That said, these relationships can be a valuable asset to you and help you reach customers and business partners that are normally out of your reach.
Over to you – what's your advice when it comes to social media relationships?