You’ve heard the term social media floating around and thought “I should probably include that in my marketing plan.” However for some reason it slipped your mind or you considered the technology to be intimidating. What if I told you it was as simple as watching grass grow and could be a major addition to your existing marketing plan?
Here are a few tips to getting started in social media:
- Why do you want a social media plan?
If you’re not clear about how social media works, you will fail from the very beginning. Take a moment and get an understanding of the mechanics behind this dynamic way of marketing. What is it that you want to accomplish by utilizing social media? Are you trying to reach a new audience? Test out a new product? Or get to know the online community in an effort to reach out to them. Make an action plan and set some concise goals. If you don’t have a plan, you’re wasting your time.
- Who will your audience be?
Now that you’ve mapped out a plan, set some clear goals, and got a basic understanding of social media who will your audience be? If you’re a restaurant, you will want to search tools like Twellow (a Twitter directory) to find people in your area and start following them. You will also want to follow business professionals with large circles of influence like real estate agents and financial planners who will help spread the word about your food. Chances are a lot of these professionals also have a blogging site and just might feature you.
- What kind of content will you promote?
This goes hand in hand with the first step. If need be, go back and look at your business plan. Why did you go into business and why are you so passionate about it? What makes you so different from the rest of your competition? Do you have a blog? If not, do you plan to start a blog? Take a look at the audience you just started following, will the content you post be relevant to them? If you were an outsider looking in, would you want to read this content on a frequent basis?
Utilize search features and research your competition and your keywords. See what other people are saying about you. You might be listed on Google or Yelp and not know about it. Someone might have also created a Facebook fan page in your honor. Listen to what they’re saying and see what your competition is doing on social media. Is there something in particular that you want to use and is there a need your audience wants you to address? Adapt this research into your social media marketing plan to get ahead of the curve.
- What tools will you use?
Social media evolves everyday and it can be tough to stay on top of it. Do you use Facebook or Twitter? How about LinkedIn? I would suggest trying all the tools accessible to you and narrowing them down if they don’t work. Exposure doesn’t hurt unless you fail to use the tools right. Once you are established, be sure to let your audience know you are out there. Send out a newsletter with the links to your new profiles, add them to your website, add them to your next set of business cards, to your email signature, and everywhere possible.
- Set up a time management system for your new marketing plan
Now that you’ve started on social media, it’s not enough to have a presence and just forget about it. It will not update on its own and you will lose your audience and create some disgruntled fans if you simply abandon it. If you feel you are too busy, set up a calendar and allot time for your social media activities or hire an intern that understands your business. Either way, a business owner or an entity represented by the business should maintain and update your social media profiles. If you set yourself out there, you will be indexed by Google and your audience will find you. If they see you have neglected your profile, it will reflect poorly on your business and it might call into question some practices about your own business. For more feedback about this, you can read an article I wrote here.
Once you have a solid action plan, the rewards of communicating online can be a huge benefit to your business.
Image Courtesy of Damien Basile