Social media sites have grown dramatically over the last few years with a dizzying increase in the size of their user base. Facebook, the 800 lb. gorilla of the medium, has a staggering 936 million daily active users and 1.44 billion active monthly users. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” Small business is on Facebook in a big way as well, with no less and 40 million small business pages. Social media is a great way to help communicate the personality of your business with your followers or fans. And social media is a critical tool that allows you to “share” the availability of fresh content on your website or blog. Social media “sharing,” where one of your followers shares one of your posts or links, is a huge driver for search engine rankings. In fact, many of the experts we spoke with suggested that this is one of the best methods to influence your position with the search engines. But success in social media can be tricky. You must actively engage and contribute to the social media community within which you participate.
“You have to be consistent,” said Jeanette Howe, VP of consumer electronics for Revenew. “You have to keep doing it. Create a cadence and stick with it.”
With this in mind, here are five tips for social media marketing:
1) Join a Small Number of Social Media Sites. The key to success in social media is active participation on these sites. Unless you have a huge social media team at your company, it is better to limit yourself to one or two sites and actively participate to create a successful presence, rather than spreading yourself thin and only posting once every six months on dozens of sites.
2) Actively Participate. If you post infrequently, you won’t be a recognized contributor to the success of the community. And if you only contribute self-serving posts, the other participants could turn on you. Savvy social media players regularly contribute to the content being posted on each site. How often should you post on social media? Again, experts debate this, and there is no one answer, but we recommend you contribute multiple times per week on those sites that seem to represent your target audience.
3) Contribute Beyond Self-Serving Posts. You want to be viewed as a welcome contributor to the social community and that means sharing other content, news, and entertaining items beyond your company’s items. Find interesting content that is relevant to the community and repost or link to it. If you receive comments to any of these postings, be sure to answer these comments to continue to engage the community.
4) Listen. You can gain a much deeper understanding of your market, but only if you are listening. One of the biggest missed opportunities that small businesses regularly make is that they assign one of their employees to pop on Facebook occasionally and “post something.” So the employee occasionally does this–and after posting, he or she goes back to his or her regular duties, paying no further attention to the site. You have to actively listen to gain the many benefits of participating in social media.
5) Consider Paid Advertising on Social Media. Most of the major social media sites have added the ability to advertise. Because this is still a relatively new initiative for most of them, the prices are fairly reasonable. There are two key reasons to try advertising on social media sites, at least on a test basis:
The site will often make special “tools” available to advertisers to allow them to target a more specific audience for their message; and
The sites will usually amplify the reach of your post if you are a paid advertiser for them. Ami Wright said that One Firefly has had good success for its clients with paid advertising on Facebook. Facebook lets you specifically target, for example, doctors or lawyers, in a certain income demographic, who belong to a certain country club, who drive BMWs, with your message.
“You can dial in specifically the demographic that you’re trying to reach in their geography,” Wright said. “And then you’re getting, for $50 or $100, anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands of impressions…50 to 150 likes…and anywhere from 20 to 50 new followers to your page.”
The tools in marketing have definitely changed in dramatic ways over the last five years or so. Marketers have to make the transition from shouting pitches at their prospects hoping to snare some buyers–to publishing content to attract and engage interested prospects, converting them into buyers.
One Firefly’s Wright summed up these changes with the new mantra in marketing, “Content is king. Frequency is queen.”
Click here to read my previous posts, “
Treat Your Website as the Foundation,” “ Four Tips for Making a Blog Part of Your Marketing Plan,” and “ Four Tips for Creating an Effective Email Marketing Campaign.”
Ted Green ( ) hosts a widely read weekly CE business blog at [email protected] Strata-gee.com, the online home of The Stratecon Group, his marketing and strategy agency for the tech industry.