7 Tips to Succeed in Social Media

July 9th, 2009

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A few years ago, one executive asked me, “What is this Internet thing? Is it going to really play a viable role in marketing?” As you know, it’s not only here to stay, it has turned the world of marketing upside down, and social media networking is driving the change.

Because of the rapid popularity for Facebook, Twitter and all things Web-related, many businesses have debated the value of the social media movement. Even with all the buzz about social media, many still ask what it all means, why it matters and how they can really benefit from it. Essentially, they’re asking, “Is this right for my business?”

Visionary executives realize that even if they don’t spend personal time online, droves of consumers are. If your consumers include anyone from 12 to 55 years old, establishing a social media program to capture that business will build brand loyalty and increase sales before the movement buries you. (A recent study found the fastest growing segment in social media are those 40 years and older. Perhaps they’re the fastest growing because everybody younger than them are already in it.)

Today’s consumers have dictated that it’s all about networking. It’s all about dialogue. It’s all about connecting with each other. That’s what gets their attention. That’s where they live. Capturing their attention where they spend absurd amounts of time online increases opportunities to steer them to you—away from your competitors, who may be out-strategizing you already.

1. It’s a Productive Use of Budget
None of the sites listed in #3 below charge for your web presence. But you need to hire social media strategists who will set up your social media plan so your online tools work together. Without that, you’ll waste money and time. Smart leaders know their company’s public (in this case, global) presence is worth getting it right. Experienced social media strategists can confidently navigate you through the online maze.

2. Establish Objectives
This sounds boring, but establishing precise objectives is an initial step. Define key goals by answering: What are we trying to accomplish? Whom are we targeting? What are our messages? Forcing your team to answer these points will steer you away from headaches and wasted dollars. It will ensure you stay on course as you define tools to implement.

3. Identify the Right Online Channels
Here’s where you can get lost without a social media strategist guiding you. Taking various forms of text, images, audio and video, social media cites prominent examples, such as Facebook (social networking), Twitter (social messaging), YouTube (video sharing), Digg (news sharing) and Flickr (photo sharing), LinkedIn (business networking) and Wikipedia (reference). Another popular social media tool is blogging, a type of website authored by an individual (or team of writers) with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events or other material, such as graphics or video.

4. Link to Your Sites
The magic in your online presence is to link your accounts so your growing network of customers can easily find you and follow your updates. For example, your Facebook should connect to your blog; your Twitter should link to your website, and so forth.

5. Post Regularly
Just like in the real world, people online value relationships, honesty and transparency, so it’s in your best interest to post updates regularly to your Facebook, Twitter, blog and YouTube accounts. They want to connect and be heard (not every hour but daily or weekly, depending on the nature of your sites). It’s all part of that relationship-building strategy.

Because quality relationships take time to build, this is an investment (many say an easy investment) to build a following of qualified customers. While you’re not going to double your business overnight, social media sites will provide you with opportunities to interact with new contacts, who may turn into valued, long-term customers who love your brand.

6. Focus on Content, Not Marketing
Write valuable, high-quality content so it can do the marketing for you. When people like what you have to say, they will share it. (Ever forwarded an email or news of a sale?) So write great content, write often and infuse personality into it. Again, the first point is to connect with people, not to sell them. Personality, tone and likability all help prospects visit with you longer. (Charming, wouldn’t you say?)

7. Write to Rank High on Search Engines
Search engines, e.g., Google, rank results based on the relevancy of content on sites. This is where your social media expert will ensure you have the right content with highly searchable terms so your company will list high in natural search rankings. Listing high is critical. (When’s the last time you veered past page one on Google’s search results page? Almost never.)

One local example of a company excelling in social media is Zions Bank. When Zions launched its Cash Back Boulevard online game, its goal was to increase awareness of the bank’s credit card rewards program. The game involved a timed shopping spree featuring a variety of fun, animated characters and prizes.

Promoted through online, viral and guerilla marketing strategies, Zions generated 9,000 registrations, 248,000 contest entries, and 98,000 visits to the site in its first four months alone. More impressive, the bank saw a 23% lift in card usage and a 31% increase in enrollments to its awards program.

Social media networking is exploding in the world of marketing to more robust levels. Even in recessionary times, businesses are rushing to social media to increase business. Establishing your social media program the right way helps you capture today’s influential Web consumers and build your business with loyal customers.

This article was originally published in AdNews.

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  • Very interesting, and I hope that this is what I am doing for the Val. A Browning Center of the Performing Arts on Weber State University’s campus. It is hard when it is only me, but still I have left an impact and this article helps me to understand more as a student studying this!

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