Key Tools For Social Media Marketing

If you are intimidated by the term “social networking” this article will help you see the light behind the hype.  Sites like Linked In, Plaxo, Twitter, and Facebook are your friends and can help you reach your target market while building meaningful connections.  The following tips will guide you through  the maze and help you create a winning strategy. 

Social networks are useful tools for connecting to people that you already know and people that may help you obtain your business goals.  Social networks allow you to invite others to connect to you and in turn you may request connections from people already in their network.  For business owners, this is a must.  Having a presence on at least one social networking site will help build your connections and increase your bottom line.

These accounts are not to be taken lightly.  Just like any type of marketing, social networking requires time and effort.  The best way to start is to create time within your schedule every week to explore connections, groups, and articles on how to maximize your success.  Some of the most successful social networking sites are:

  • Linked In
  • Facebook
  • Plaxo

Common traits of social networking sites:

  • Events
  • RSS feed
  • Messaging yools
  • Discussion forms/tools
  • Profile information
  • Groups

Other social sites that becoming popular are:

  • Twitter- This is a social networking site that allows people to have a constant feed about what they are doing.  Others can connect to you and see what you are doing all the time.  
  • Digg– A social news site that enables people to share interesting news articles, links, and stories from all over the Internet.
  • Little Engine– It is a community of small businesses that share information and news about each other to boost business and encourage people to buy local.
  • Flickr– This site allows for the sharing and management of images.
  • Ning- This site helps you create your own social network.

There are a many ways to get connected online. The best strategy is to try out a couple different social networking tools, explore them, understand them, and make time to make them work.  Don’t try to use all the sites out there because no one has time to keep up with all of them.  Explore, plan, proceed.

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The Power of Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement goes beyond tweets and posts about your specials and coupon promotions. Your followers and fan tire easily of the “in-your-face” sales pitches about the latest and greatest deal. It gets old and they will eventually tune you out…or even worse, they will stop following you.

Effective engagement leads to REAL social conversations which can lead to authentic and invaluable return on investment. Managers and decision makers often ask: what are the benefits of social media and why should we use it for marketing purposes? Below are seven benefits that can happen as a result of active social media engagement.

Creates brand ambassadors – The best testimonial you could receive comes straight from your customers’ mouths…or in this case, straight from their tweets or Facebook posts. You don’t have to mention your brand once. Let your followers do all the talking. A happy customer will gladly share with others WHY they should use your services/products. During 2011, approximately 18 million people were strongly influenced by the opinions of others on social media. Who are the influencers in your social media clique?

Gets inside the heads of your fans and followers – Check out their profiles and find out more information. Ask genuine questions about what they like or dislike to get the conversation started. People love to talk about themselves and share their opinions. Give them a reason to share and interact with your brand. Remember this basic human fact – people love talking about themselves and what they care about. Remember to listen to your fans, and actively participate in their conversations.

Talks about your products and services – You build the context of real conversation with back and forth chatter that doesn’t sound like a canned sales pitch. People don’t respond when they are being talked at…talk WITH your customers and fans.

Promotes “word of tweet” marketing – Your customers will tell their social media followers how much they like (or hate) your brand, simply by the way they talk about their experiences with your brand. With just one tweet, thousands of people (and potentially more) just heard about your company from other, and gave your brand a “big thumbs up”. When you consider that 23 million people in 2011 discovered new brands or products through social media, then you can see why remaining connected and engaged is very important.

Makes your brand human – Social media engagement makes your brand “human” and gives your brand real value with customers, fans and followers. If people are invested in your brand, they will gladly post positive testimonials which further enhance your brand equity.

Improves your bottom-line – It’s a fallacy to think you can’t measure ROI when it comes to social media engagement. You can see a return on investment by first establishing what you want to measure. If your goal is to increase sales during happy hour or Sunday brunch, then create campaigns, content and conversation both around and about those events. Leverage QR codes, special offers, and games and contests to help drive interest and traffic to your business. You may not be able to measure your ROI exactly but you can get close.