As an Inbound Marketer and Social Media Consultant, you will be asked, “What does that mean?” more often than you think. Colleagues and potential clients will ask are you an expert? Does Social Media really work? Some of my friends use Facebook or LinkedIn. Is Twitter a waste of time? How does this help my business?
For this example, let us focus on the business/organization perspective. Before the advent of Web 2.0 or Social Media, companies typically advertised their products by television, radio, newspaper ads, direct mail, catalogs and by word of mouth. The communication was typically one way and not always interactive.
Moving forward in today’s world we have become an internet savvy society and Social Media tools or Web 2.0 (the second revolution of the internet) are now allowing consumers to communicate with each other (product reviews) and directly to businesses. If a business is smart, they will listen to their customers and act in their best interest.
Advertising has changed as well. Digital or Internet advertising has grown significantly (I will not quote numbers today) and if a business wants to compete and stay ahead, they need to be where customers can easily find and learn about them.
So how do you implement Social Media for your Business or Organization? I would simply and methodically. Make sure you establish your vision and branding ahead of time. Let us focus on the main steps. It would take me about 50 pages to give you everything in my head!
If you have a business, I imagine that you have main web site. A great way to add more value to your audience is to provide original, remarkable or reprinted (with permission of course) content offering something of educational value. For example, you are a movie studio. Build a blog discussing upcoming movies and features with actors. Encourage your audience to write comments or guest blog. Have contests asking your audience to submit an idea for a movie. When you listen to your customer, you can determine their needs and provide the appropriate service/product. If you asked what is my favorite blogging platform, I would say WordPress.org. Blogging is a great way to drive in more traffic to your site, raise awareness and have an interactive outlet for your business.
Make sure you have a call to action and share buttons in every post (article).
Being found online by certain keyword is so important. Except for time, this does cost a dime. This is an ongoing process and never quite ends. Most of the hard work takes place initially and then it becomes maintenance. There are free tools from Google to help you find keywords that would fit your business based on existing web site content or from a list of keywords, people find you with or from a list based on your Team brainstorming results.
LinkedIn is a reputable professional network. Make sure you have a profile about your company on LinkedIn. Ensure your employees are using this tool. If you have 100 employees and each of them has 100 connections, then 10,000 have a potential to connect with you through a real person. Be sure to create a group and start meaningful, not self-promoting discussions. This also helps you being found in organic searches.
Facebook is interesting. I am sure we have heard the stories where people place personal photos of being their “best” at a party. Forget that for a moment. Facebook is a great place to build a Fan Page and have a captive audience without bombarding people with email. Facebook has over 300 millions users and allows you to have some demographic information based on your Fans. It is another way for you to spread your wings in a nonchalant manner. Your Fan page should offer information that is of value including feeds from Twitter and your Blog. Fans can write comments or discuss you.
In addition to being found in organic search results, you can also run paid ads to show up in Google search results. This is a bit more intensive and you can learn more by clicking here.
Another great tool is Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging platform and you provide valuable content about your business by referring to articles or great find while staying within a 140-character limit. Twitter allows you to pretty much follow anyone and anyone can follow you without being spammed. It is also fun when I see businesses that say Follow us on Twitter. Usually, I end up doing that and then they follow me. I have learned some good stuff on Twitter.
After you implement some of your Social Media, you will want to analyze your hard work and see if you are up to par. HubSpot offers some great tools to help analyze your web site, blog and Twitter account by using automated reports and they score you on a scale of 100. It is like being school again.
I have only gone over a handful of tools that are the most popular. There are many more including Technorati, Jigsaw, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon, Reddit, DIGG, MIXX, YouTube and so on. In addition, there are new tools popping up frequently.
Right now, Social Media is new and there is a lot of opportunity; however, you need to jump right in and embrace it with an open mind. I have not seen any of my efforts fail even once.