Make social media work for your business

If you’re not promoting your business online, you are missing the opportunity to reach potential customers and you can bet your competitors are taking advantage of this marketing opportunity.

When it comes to social media, it can be defined in myriad ways depending on who you talk with. A general definition is that social media is any form of online presence that allows users to engage in a multi-directional conversation in which they can share ideas, information and current events.

Social media – the platform itself – includes “>Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, blogging and more. The main portion of social media is the interaction you have with your customers and potential customers. Businesses sometimes refer to social media as CGM (consumer-generated media), but it’s more than that – it’s a dialogue you are having with those who visit your site or your page.

Social media has opened new avenues for reaching consumers for your goods and services and it has truly changed the way businesses utilize their marketing dollars and the way they target marketing campaigns. In the past, marketing budgets were spent on newspaper, radio or television ad spots but now those budgets are being funneled into building a social media platform.
With traditional marketing it was easier to target the market by demographic and you hoped that your ad dollars were being well spent and reaping rewards. Today, businesses are spending money on social media, but because it is always changing, businesses sometimes find it hard to keep up; this is the reason business owners are finding it difficult to position themselves to effectively use social media in a meaningful way to build a customer base.
In her book, How To Build Buzz for Your Biz, author Wendy Kenney shows businesses how to use social media to its best advantage to help build a following for the goods and services you have to offer. The first step to building a social media platform is to find the audience that wants – and needs – your services. To do this, you need to have a good understanding of who it is your business wants to target and find out which sites these individuals visit online.
One of the biggest social media errors that are committed by businesses is once they’ve found the community they want to target, they tend to spam them by aggressively marketing their products. Yes, you want to tell potential customers about what you have to offer, but you have to offer them something… more. Give them a reason to have a multi-directional conversation with you. Talk to them without constantly marketing to them. Make connections – potential customers are more than happy to purchase goods or services from someone with whom they feel a connection – not from someone who is filling their inboxes or Facebook walls with advertising. That’s not to say you never want to talk about who you are and what your business does – you do – just not constantly and make sure, even when you’re talking about your business you are opening the door to a two-way conversation.
Another fallacy that businesses have is that if they begin Tweeting or posting on Facebook or YouTube today, they will reap benefits tomorrow. It won’t happen. As with any advertising campaign it takes time to build not only trust, but an online following.
Social media success is all about the relationship building. Your social media campaign needs to be thought of as a long-term investment. Bring potential customers to your community, strengthen relationships and your sales will grow as a result of the effort you have put into it.
It’s true that relationship building, and keeping the online conversation going can be time-consuming, and this is why many companies hire internet marketing experts to maintain and manage the social media aspects of your business. The benefits of your relationship building can be measured through most social media sites by watching the increased amounts of comments to information you post and by the followers you pick up due to your online diligence.
Bottom line, if you’re not promoting your business online, you are missing the opportunity to reach potential customers – and you can bet your competitors are taking advantage of this marketing opportunity.
And, if you’re not promoting your business with messages on hold, you’re missing the opportunity to turn prospects into customers.