By Wayne English
Social Networking has taken the world of business by storm. Properly used, it can establish you as an expert in your field, keep you in-touch with customers, sell your products, and market your business or organization. It is an around-the-clock marketing machine that never sleeps.
In our seminars, we are asked how to get started using it. While that is a simple question, it requires detailed understanding of the company, knowledge of business goals, and much more information as well. So, to provide people with meaningful assistance we developed these steps. Be advised that they do not provide answers, but lead you to asking the right questions.
Why? Pertinent questions that apply to your business and situation only are invaluable. And those questions, my friend, are far more valuable to you than their answers. There are people, books, consultants, aplenty to give you answers, but if you don’t answer the right questions, where are you? By developing the high quality questions that apply to your business, you will create a social networking campaign that is customized to your specific needs. To be successful, that is essential because your customers, their needs, your employees, your very business is unique. This is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
So, treat these steps as guidelines. Reorder them, combine them, delete any that you care to, but please read them all. Number nine you will find particularly interesting as it combines the online world and the offline world. Social networking has been around for hundreds of years. Don’t think that it only takes place from your keyboard. Nothing could be further from the truth.
1. Goals are not Wants and Wishes. List the goals of your social networking campaign and verify that they are achievable. As one goal approaches completion have the next goal ready to implement.
2. Who Will Conduct Your Social Networking Campaign? Creating your own content takes time. If you hire someone to create your content, provide information on your company and approve the material before it’s published. If you give the job to an employee, provide the time and resources necessary to carry out the work.
3. How will you Motivate Your Audience to Tell You What They Want in Your Social Networking Campaign? Ask, and offer a premium. For example, a free report, a discount coupon, entrance in a contest, a gift, or something else of unquestioned value for the time they spend responding to your query.
4. Determine What Social Media Sites are Best for Your Needs. Look for ways to distribute your social networking campaign into every niche. Visit the major social networking sites and determine which are best for your needs. A blog requires writing, a micro-blog requires you to write tight headlines, video requires you to make, edit, and upload them. Choose the site(s) that fit your needs and create your accounts.
5. Your Web Site is the Crown Jewel of Your Social Media Campaign. Bring your Web site up-to-date and be sure that it supports your social networking campaign by providing the pertinent information your audience is looking for. Integrate your site into your social networking campaign.
6. Create Your Content, Place it Online, and Implement Your Ongoing Content Creation Plan. Only create content of unquestioned value that your audience wants. There is no point spending time and dollars to create material that no one will view. Remember, you are selling your social networking campaign for something more valuable than money, someone’s time.
7. Go Live and Tell the World. E-mail your audience to notify them that your social media campaign is online. If you have an over-the-counter business, place signs in the store, include an insert in bags, put your online information on all company paperwork including business cards, invoices, and billing statements.
8. Determining the Effectiveness of Your Social Networking Campaign. Look for increased activity on your Web site. Have your Web master provide you data on where your visitors are coming from. Look for traffic from your social networking sites.
9. Offline Activities to Assist Making Your Social Networking Campaign Successful.
- Attend conferences in your field and those related to your target audience.
- Become an acknowledged expert in your field by publishing in Twitter and on a blog. Publish articles in industry magazines, newsletters, and blogs.
- Collaborate with cause marketing. The old saying, “Two heads are better than one,” is true.
- E-mail marketing, use it as a marketing tool and to keep-in-touch.
- Engage your employees in your social networking campaign. Publish a social networking policy that tells them what they can do, not what they can’t do.
- Give a free seminar at your place of business. Promote it online and with a press release.
- Host free seminars at your place of business.
- Join Chambers of Commerce, networking, and business groups.
- Paper magazines. Don’t throw them away, cut them up and send pertinent articles to your clients. Find the article(s) online and use e-mail to send a link your clients.
- LinkedIn is perfect for your needs. Use it.
- Market to those who can refer business to you, and to those who do business with you.
- Publish a Newsletter. Include trivia, winter driving tips, a crossword puzzle, Windows and Mac tips, new products with links to independent reviews, gift ideas, etceteras. Do not use your newsletter for selling. Do keep it informative, timely, and fun.
- Send hand written Christmas cards, and thank you notes to your clients. Begin writing them in October, if that’s what it takes.
- Quality content provides unquestioned value. Customers want answers. Provide them.
- Speak at conferences and industry events.
- Subscribe to industry magazines, blogs, and newsletters that your customers read.
- Take every opportunity to get together with customers, and potential customers.
- Throw a party.
- Use both sides of any handout. The space you waste could be marketing for you.
- Video. Create your YouTube channel and place your videos there.
- Your Web site is the crown jewel of your social networking campaign. See that its design supports your business needs.