The world of Social Media marketing can be a little scary if you and your business has not dabbled before, with this in mind we thought we would like to give you our recommendations for starting out.
Remember when your Mother always told you to listen? Well that is the best advice possible when starting to use Social Media as a marketing tool.
Let’s keep it very simple, head over to Twitter Search and type in search terms that relate to your business. Now if you are a well known brand it would make sense to start with your company/brand name, type it in the search field and see what comes back! The beauty of Twitter search is that it gives you results in real time from across Twitter, meaning you can see exactly what people are saying about you at any given time. Of course there may be some bad comments in amongst the good so be prepared for that. Now if you are not a particularly well known brand/business you may not be generating much chatter on Twitter, not to worry, at this point (obviously try your name as well) it is helpful to search for areas that your business operates in, if you sell jeans, search for jeans or perhaps fashion and see what the buzz is.
What do you get back from this? Great comments? Bad comments? Ideas about how you could do things better? Information on your competitors? Quite possibly you have seen all of this and more, don’t rush in and engage though, especially if you are reading negative comments. In this case you need to consider a response and be willing to work to resolve the issue with the customer/complainant to their satisfaction. Chances are your brand/company has been being praised/derided in the social space for a while, so holding back a little longer is ok, you need to construct a response and a set of rules for engaging before you make contact because once you start you cannot be seen to stop. Go cautiously but don’t take too long to get involved! Recognise nice feedback too, not just the bad!
Do Not Stop at Twitter!
The world has become Twitter obsessed and you must make sure you do not get bogged down in it! People are more than likely talking about you all over the web and you need to know what they are saying! There are numerous tools out there that can help you to gauge this, a nice simple starting place is Social Mention. Type in your search terms and select what you want to look for, that could be blogs, networks or ‘all’ it will crunch away and deliver you a screen like below:
The results deliver you a Google style list of mentions across the social sphere as well as lists of related keywords, sentiment tracker and more. It is very simple but a great starting place for overall listening and tracking of your social media noise. Sentiment and strength etc can be misleading but if they are very poor then you have lots of work to do!
Take the time to absorb everything you have gathered from initial listening and identify key areas to tackle. Are there major issues that need addressed? Are your competitors making moves that you like and think could work for you? Is your overall sentiment strong, if so how can you increase that? These are just a few things to think about. Share the info with your colleagues and ensure they are aware of the social media space and show them how to use the listening tools.
The key thing is, once you have started listening do not even think about stopping!
Your reputation is changed in real time and you need to act in real time!
Time To Act!
So you have been listening (also known as ‘lurking’) and have identified that you are ready to start engaging! Well now you need to set up the tools. The Social Media venues available to you are vast and wide ranging (see diagram in this post for a visual representation!) and to try and have presence across the board at this stage would be foolhardy. We recommend starting off with a presence on a few key outlets:
Read our blog ‘Tweeting For Business’ for a quick guide to using Twitter and advice on your look, feel and tone of voice. Make sure your first ‘tweet’ sets the tone for future communications and make it a worthwhile read, give the citizens of Twitterville a reason to listen. Do not expect a deluge of followers, it will take a good while for people to engage with you, it is not about the numbers anyway!
You can use Twitter to:
- Communicate with and serve customers
- Interact with potential customers
- Share interesting info (this should be good mixture)
- Point people to your content on your other social media venues or indeed your official site
And much much more.
Blogging is not a new phenomenon and the use of blogs is staggering. For your business a blog can gives you the opportunity to communicate with the public in an almost traditional medium – the article. Social media can be a brief encounter and with the popularity of micro blogging it can be all too easy to communicate in short sharp bursts. Having an official blog allows you to share information on a far more in depth basis, using a blend of images and text, even video and sound can create and engaging presence for your customers. The content of your blog is up to you, but it should not just be focussed on your product/service, it should perhaps give your customers a look inside your business and the world you operate in. It is a nice idea to have different people writing the blog from time to time to keep it fresh.
Where to Start?
As you can see we use wordpress.com and find it simple and easy to update with adequate stats available. Don’t forget you need to know how many people are reading your blog and how they found it etc so make sure you keep track! WordPress allows you to easily change the look of your blog and incorporate various ‘widgets’ such as your twitter feed.
It is worth brainstorming ideas of what you want to cover blog-wise in the future, have topics that you think would make interesting reading that you can write about and release at intervals but make sure you are in a position to blog ‘on demand’ should something happen that you feel is of value.
People need to be able to find your blog in order to read it right? One of the best ways to do this is to use a service such as Ping – O – Matic that allows you to submit your blog to various aggregators in an attempt to get it indexed via search engines etc. For example, Google needs to know you are there in order to show you in search results but that it just the start, you need to ensure you have regular content that is relevant and well tagged with keywords etc. This is a whole other blog but you can read tips here
Use your Twitter feed to direct people to your new blog post, summarise it and use a service such as bit.ly to shorten your blog URL (bit.ly will also give you click stats and more). It is so important not to use the full 140 characters here as you want people to ‘retweet’ your blog link with their comments, thus spreading the word and getting you more readers!
Don’t stop there though, you want to be letting people know about your blog (and any other social media presence) on your site, in your emails comms and so on. As an aside your site content should be easily sharable by using an on page service such as Share This
There is every chance you have used Wikipedia at some point in the last few years! It represents a great opportunity for you to create a resource for your business and customers. Of course it is open to the world so anybody can edit it but it is important for you to be aware of Wikipedia and your presence on there. If one does not exist for your business, you should write it! If it does exist, why not add to it? There may be negativity on there and it is acceptable for you to counteract this with positivity however trying to delete the nasty stuff is not advisable (if it is slander etc then contact Wikipedia and they will investigate). People expect to find you on Wikipedia so make sure you have a presence and closely monitor it. Read this Wikihow article for advice on starting out.
If you have videos that you feel would be off interest to the public then you should set up a Youtube channel for your business. So far everything we have covered has been mainly based around text and as interesting as it can be, people love to watch! If you do not have any footage then why not look at creating some? Are you a cosmetics business? Why not do some makeup application tutorials? Think creatively and don’t get bogged down in budgets, you can film and share video cheaply and the added value for your customers/potential customers can be huge. Other video outlets do exist, use a video aggregator such as Tube Mogul to distribute and track your content, this will save you time!
Using these outlets will give you a solid presence and are good starting points. As you get used to playing in social media you should consider the other venues. There will be some that suit and some that don’t, just please make sure you are not using any for the sake of it! I am sure some of you are thinking ‘why no mention of Facebook?’ and quite rightly so, however we believe that you need to have the above in place before you can create a strong enough Facebook page, as on this you will be able to incorporate all of the above.
Remember that all social media activity takes serious commitment and will drain time resources. Even if you are just listening it is a start at least! Once you start engaging you cannot stop so ensure you have an ongoing plan in place for management and that your colleagues are on board so they can pick up the slack.