For most small businesses, social media should be one weapon in your arsenal – not your entire marketing strategy. Look for smart ways to integrate social media into your current marketing efforts. Just like any other tactic, it has its own benefits, advantages and shortcomings – you can’t rely on it for everything, so play to its strengths. Here’s some tips for smart social media integration.
1. Always connect the dots – link back to your website from all your social media profiles.
2. Where possible back up the contacts you make on social networks. Myspace recently acquired and promptly killed Imeem leaving millions of users without access to the contacts they had developed on that network. Social media is fragile in this way.
3. Social media is a mid/long term process – so if you need fast, short-term sales, try bulking up on your SEO or PPC efforts instead.
4. Social media is not an infomercial – if you try to hard-sell on social media you’ll shoot yourself in the foot and lose the opportunity to connect with your audience. Build trust and reputation and over time your audience will tolerate the occasional smart promotion that has real value for them. Social media is not about pushing your product/service at anyone.
5. Social networking has not replaced email marketing! Don’t neglect your email marketing campaigns, and in fact use social media promotions to generate more email subscribers.
6. Be strategic – analyze why you are on the networks you are on and if they are right for you. How can you use them for best effect? For example, Facebook is great for data mining so make the most of the demographic info you can get from your fan Page and use that info to craft more social media promotions as well as offline offerings.
7. Be cohesive with your other marketing efforts. For example, if you are also doing an SEO campaign, look at the keywords you are targeting there and utilize them in your social media efforts.
8. Your job with social media is to find & serve your community and make yourself valuable. If you didn’t start your business because you want to provide real value to people, chances are social media is not for you.
9. Monitor online conversations about your brand and assess what people are happy with, or not happy with. Can you use this feedback to improve your services? Or improve the way you communicate your message? You can also use social media to respond appropriately, or provide customer service.
10. Don’t forget you are a community member as well as a business owner – encourage feedback and discussion amongst your community and participate!
About The Guest Author: Lucy Beer, of Web Training Wheels, works with small businesses and entrepreneurs to help them develop effective online marketing strategies.