Using social media to promote your business does not mean using social media to do business – not, at least, if it’s done right. It means using social media to “un-market.” I like the term “in-bound marketing,” describing an environment you create where qualified customers seek you. Social media is a great tool for creating such environments.
Social media, though, should be reserved for conversations and relationships. Through these relationships, businesses can attract interest. If they become involved in a conversation about their business, they send prospects to their website. THAT’s where marketing and business are done.
I’m often asked about using social media for marketing a business. As a social media manager, I have a system of steps and checkpoints for entering and navigating this new territory. But, for the business owner who wants to tackle the task on their own, I have these tips:
Use social media as a consumer
Before making the mistake of entering the social media space for marketing purposes and addressing your market with the traditional approach of broadcasting messages (like you used to do with mass media), it’s advisable to learn your way around by participating as a consumer in online communities. This gives you the opportunity to explore, listen, and be involved in conversations with people you know – like real-life friends and family. You’ll also observe other businesses using social media, and you’ll get a feel for who’s not doing it well. You’ll learn how to easily unfriend, unfollow, delete and report spammers. You’ll experience why social media is creating a market where the consumer is in control.
Identify a singular objective
As a consumer using social media, take note of the businesses that are doing it right and what they’re doing. Start thinking about the singular, well-defined reason you want to use social media. Focusing on only one objective – at least for the first six months or so – will make it easier to manage during this learning phase. These resources — “Why use social media?” and “6 Ws” — are samples of questions that can help you arrive at an answer.
Learn the role of keywords in your digital strategy and begin compiling a list of them. “Three things to know about keywords” will give you an overview about the importance of keywords and how they relate to everything you do online. The Compiling your Keywords worksheet is a list of five questions that will help surface your keywords.
Optimize your website
In this age of Web 2.0, your website cannot simply be a digital brochure. This list contains key featuresthat help ensure your website includes a call to action and interactivity. You can make your website more findable by search engines if you add freshness factors. For example, a regularly updated blog, or a well-kept calendar of events and specials would provide a source of new content. You also want to make the site shareable by adding widgets that allow visitors to send your site to their social networks with just one click. Your web design can be created professionally on a platform that you can maintain yourself.
Create a social media plan
New media is “social,” but that shouldn’t be misinterpreted as “casual.” Take a serious approach to using social media as a business tool, so you can expect serious results. If you use any of these tips, or any of these tools as part of your marketing strategy, I hope you’ll leave a comment about your experience with them. If you have suggestions you can add, we’d like to hear those too.