Nearly every business owner and marketing professional knows that social media is an essential facet of the modern marketing plan. Unfortunately, far fewer know how to make effective use of a social media marketing strategy for brand building, networking and sales.
Build Your Brand with Social Media
There’s no question about whether or not social media marketing plays a role in establishing your brand. That’s happening, whether you’re participating or not. The question is whether you’re guiding that image or leaving it to employees, customers, disgruntled ex-clients and competitors to paint a picture of your company in social media.
Building your brand through a social media marketing strategy requires planning. Before you start posting (or handing out the social media passwords to your employees), think about the voice you want to establish and how to use those accounts in a way that’s consistent with the brand you’re building through your advertising, client relationships and other aspects of your marketing strategy.
Then, show your corporate personality, establish your expertise and let your prospective customers, your colleagues and even your competitors see who you are and what you have to offer.
Networking for Information and Profit
One powerful aspect of social media is that it allows you to interact with professionals from around the country and beyond. It’s never been easier to build relationships with experts abroad and with colleagues on the other side of the country. Often, because of niches, geography and other factors, those colleagues aren’t direct competitors.
Connecting with those professionals helps your business in two ways. First, the ability and willingness to share information in these networks means that you can learn, gather resources, create a support network for questions that arise and otherwise build your arsenal of knowledge.
Those connections can help build your business more directly, too. When you establish your expertise and build a wide circle of professional acquaintances in your industry and those closely related, you’re also growing a referral network.
Interact with Customers and Prospects in Social Media
As you establish your brand and share information in social media, you’re also expanding your reach by getting your name, brand image and expertise in front of potential customers. With careful planning, you can use your social media marketing strategy to make direct offers to those new prospects. Some social media promotions, like special offers for those who have “liked” a company’s Facebook page, have excellent potential. Be careful, though! It’s easy to be branded a spammer in social media, and pushing your products and services too hard can backfire.
Take time to learn the customs of an individual site and to observe how the most successful companies interact before jumping in to promote yourself directly. Each social media outlet operates a bit differently and expectations differ as well. In upcoming posts, we’ll discuss some of the most popular social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in more detail to help you put together a winning strategy for each site you frequent.