All business owners and small companies have heard that buzzword “Social Media”
The great news is that we’ve put together this article to guide you through the basics and to give you an insight of the key points of using social media to grow your business and create traffic to your website. However, this is just a taste of what can be achieved when you join the digital revolution that is social media marketing.
Social media has changed the way we do almost everything. Many businesses and companies have been slow on the uptake and are stuck in their traditional ways of marketing and advertising. Social media is about the efficient distribution of your content across the internet. It is about increasing the exposure of your conversations from person to person, network to network, by people. The key is to create maximum value to your content and distribute your message and let social media networks do the rest. After all, your competitors are using social media and your customers are using social media.
Here are a few things to think about…
Social Media is a public & open platform. It is often the first place people look to find new service providers and recommendations. If you aren’t in this digital space then how do your potential customers perceive your business? On reflection there is the possibility that people will favour a rival business that already ‘owns’ this social space so you may be missing out on opportunities by not being there. Using social media means you can learn about your competitors & customers. You can gain valuable business by taking the time to listen to your community, building meaningful relationships with clients, colleagues & industry influencers. You can build a reputation for your company and become a leader in your field. You become the place to visit for a source of news, information & commentary about your industry. It provides a platform where you can share tips, advice and guidance about your services.
Social Media is a Personal Business.
People buy from people. People ‘connect’ with people. This is networking in its most basic form and introduces you to people where a relationship could be beneficial to each of the parties involved. Social media gives you the opportunity to know your customers before you call/email/visit. Remember it is PR and customer service rolled into one. People also buy from peer recommendations. In this day and age we have all become ‘savvy’ to the sales pitch and marketing and advertising spiel….. We have become immune and often ignore an advertising campaign.
In a recent report 73% trust peer recommendations. Only…. 14% trust ads
So where do we start?
The key to social media is to engage, entertain and inform your audience so that you can achieve maximum interaction with your brand. A social media strategy can be overwhelming and very time consuming, but there are several channels that you should be on to make your strategy successful. There are now hundreds of popular social media sites that you can take advantage of, but we will be concentrating on the main ones.
Facebook is the largest social networking service in the world with now over one billion active users. Just imagine Facebook as a ‘website on steroids’ and you get the idea! Many use it as a way to stay in touch or as a way to share their life publicly. It enables you to make announcements, initiate conversations and engage with people online. You can also join specific groups of people with similar interests. Facebook is a great visual platform for sharing photographs and images. Text is now boring and images are great. Whether you agree or not, that’s what Facebook users think.
What’s the difference between a Facebook page & a profile page?
Facebook profiles are for personal use and you can recognise a profile page if you can see the ‘friend’ option. Facebook pages, however were designed to be used for businesses. Traditional marketing is used in the hope that you will capture someone’s interest somewhere along the advertising chain. However, your customers are already on Facebook, they’re already paying attention so put your business where they already are. You can use Facebook to target posts by location and you can add applications to your page, including custom content such as videos, graphics, opt-in boxes and more.
A Facebook business page differs from a personal page by being public. The biggest advantage to a business page is the ability to brand the page to your business identity. These focused pages allow you to create a viable business platform creating outbound links to blogs and your website unlike the consumer based personal pages. Customised landing pages can be created to tell visitors who you are and what you do and anyone can view your page even if they don’t use the network. The additional benefit is that all Facebook business pages are indexed by search engines meaning Google will find you.
1 out of every 7 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook so it’s important that you have a presence here. Understanding how Facebook business pages work lets you create a viable marketing strategy on the biggest and most popular social media network in the world.
Every day, millions of people use the micro-blogging platform Twitter to connect to their interests, to share information and find out what’s happening in the world right now. Anyone can read, write and share messages of up to 140 characters. There are over a 100,000 tweets sent out every minute related to almost any topic imaginable. If a customer has 5,000 followers on Twitter and tweets something positive about your business, then that tweet is like a free online advertisement with a potential audience of 5,000 new customers, plus any Twitter followers of those 5,000 people, and so on. The same kind of thinking is true for Facebook wall posts.
These messages, or tweets are available to anyone interested in reading them, and in the same way as Facebook, whether you are logged in or use Twitter at all. For businesses and brands, these conversations provide a powerful way to connect your messages to your brand. It’s a great network for telling stories, creating events, broadcasting content and for directly connecting with customers. One of the unique points of Twitter is the hashtag and should be used as part of your social media strategy. Business specific conversations can be used for advice, resources and current news if you search by topics. For instance #startup & #marketing hashtags contain loads of small business related content that can be used for making connections. You can use Twitter to influence and participate in real-time conversations building relationships and gathering insights within your industry.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 175 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. Whether you’re looking to win new clients or build your professional reputation, LinkedIn connects you to sales leads and ideal business partners. However, it’s important to understand that Linkedin is not just a social platform aimed at business users. Rather, an online database that can be ‘mined’ to gain contacts within your avenue of business. If utilised correctly it is a valuable resource for online marketing. LinkedIn is definitely the place to turn for new opportunities.
Additional resources for your social media strategy
Blogging is a great way for a business to take advantage of increasing web traffic and build brand awareness online.
Websites are now losing impact as online users look for up-to-date content rather than just a static information page. A blog contains material much more specific and customer focused than your website often written by your public relations team or sales staff. In effect a blog is like a newsletter, but with more frequent updates inviting customers to interact and comment. This creates a more personal and human side to your business. It shows that behind your ‘shop window website’ there is a human somewhere giving advice, the latest news, industry developments and opinions about your business.
Integrating and sharing content created on your blog effectively harnesses the power of your social following whilst increasing the likelihood that your message and brand gains a wider audience. After all, one of the primary reasons to use social media is to drive traffic to your business. This will help develop a closer relationship with your customers (and potential customers) and will give you more of a brand identity.
Blogging increases your search engine rankings (SEO)
According to Hubspot business blogging leads to around 55% more website visitors. Search engines, such as Google, have a tendency to ‘like’ websites that are frequently updated with original content. To put it another way, a blog is a one of the most powerful ways of keeping the content on your website fresh. Also, every new blog post creates new opportunities for your site to be ranked in searches, which will hopefully lead to more people visiting it. A good way to encourage this is by giving each blog post a simple, relevant title that reflects a popular search term for your industry.
Your traffic can increase when people link to your blog. Someone who finds your post useful might choose to share it somewhere, for example on Twitter, or even their own blog, which could then lead to several more people visiting your post and sharing it themselves. You also have the option of posting links across your own social networks, encouraging the people who have already shown an interest in your business by choosing to ‘follow’ or ‘Like’ you, to visit the blog too.
Using social media for your business has a great effect on your internet search engine rankings. One factor that Google uses is the importance of the number of links other sites have to your site, especially if your site is mentioned on any of the social media platforms. If your firm or business is mentioned or keyword or phrase is searched and that is part of a social media program then the perception is that your business must be worth visiting. Google rewards websites due to the length of time users spend on your site. If your website is easy to use and contains information interesting to your client base, your Google ranking will then increase.
Obviously it’s crucial that your website looks great and is up to date as it is effectually your shop window and your firms’ brochure. Social media ‘follow’ and ‘like’ buttons should be placed on your website to make it easy to find you. It’s also a good idea to integrate your blog or twitter feed into your website to keep your clients up-to-date with all your latest news. Don’t forget to social media ‘brand’ your newsletters, e-mail signatures, letterheads & business cards too.
The Social Media Marketing report stated that: Website traffic increased by 72% via social media site referrals in 2011
The community relationship doesn’t stop when you’ve made a sale or won new business. Social Media is great for customer service and for identifying issues in real-time! We all use Social Media sites for a sense of friendship, community & belonging. We can share valuable content and can react to feedback instantly! In fact, SM is now commanding a quarter of all time spent online and we dedicate more time to Social Media than email & searching. Include the huge rise in Smartphone usage & almost 40 percent of social media users access social sites from their mobile devices. This means that users are connected to social media networks 24/7.
Social media is just networking for the modern age. It’s an opportunity to speak to people who are talking about your industry, but actually want to speak to people like you. You want to speak to them, don’t you?
0208 931 9300