If you own a business with a web site, you absolutely must have a social media strategy. Your customers are already online researching your reputation and looking for your products and services. If you’re still on the fence about social media, here are some interesting stats from Inman News:
- On an average day there are more than 400 million tweets, 500 million active LinkedIn and Google Plus accounts, and 3.2 billion likes and comments on Facebook;
- More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month;
- More than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube (that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth);
- Nine in 10 homebuyers today rely on the Internet as one of their primary research sources.
As you look to adopt a social media strategy for 2014, here are a few tips on getting started:
What does a social media strategy mean?
It basically means (a) creating basic social media accounts for your business, (b) linking to them from the home page of your web site and (c) populating them with content.
What’s the point?
Your customers are already looking to find you on social networks, and they provide an easy (and free) medium for promoting your business, your content and your reputation.
Where do you begin?
Start small. There are many niche social networking sites, but make sure you have the basics covered on Facebook (a business page, as opposed to your personal page), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus (which might not be as popular as Facebook but is linked with Google search, which has its advantages) and YouTube.
What about a blog?
The importance of having a blog is that (a) it easily allows you to share news about your products and services, (b) its comments section allows interaction with readers and customers and (c) it provides you with a cheap and easy way to refresh your web site, which leads to higher search-engine rankings.
Content strategy: Giving something for nothing
Now comes the task of updating these social networks with content. Your content strategy is basically an exhibition of your knowledge and reputation in your field. Are you a Realtor? Share news stories about your service area, the real estate industry and whatever a prospective client might be coming to you for. Yes, you’ll want to promote your listings, but the important thing here is to give your readers some free advice, so to speak, which will keep them coming back to your web site and possibly hiring you or buying your products. If you sell products, for your content strategy you’ll want to feature new products, offer video diaries and demos, or feature sales and discounts. Also, if your products get independently reviewed, you can promote those as well.
In a nutshell, people are coming to your web site to check you out and pick your brain. Give them just enough info to satisfy that need, but not so much that they won’t need to hire you.
Now that you’ve created these necessary social networks, have you bitten off more than you can chew? This is the number one reason why most businesses and professionals don’t even get started with social networking: They feel like it will be a huge energy suck. This can be solved in several ways:
1. Budget the time to update your social networks: You don’t want to overload your audience anyway, so set aside several times per week where you update your social media sites with content, and be sure to update your blog once a month at the very least.
2. Sign up for a scheduling service: Programs like Hootsuite allow you to schedule your posts on Twitter, G+, Facebook and LinkedIn in advance.
3. Hire an online media strategist: For just a few hundred dollars a month, you can hire an online media consultant to handle your social networking promotions, blog posts and overall content strategy. Often they will do your web site updates as well. Considering what you normally pay in advertising, this might be worth the expense, especially if you find that print ads are not drawing customers like they used to.
Summing up, the business world is transitioning more and more to digital and mobile mediums. In other words, people are on the Internet a lot. And most importantly, the Internet is where they’re turning when they need a plumber, a therapist, a masseuse, a vacation, a pizza. You want to make sure your business is not just online, but in-line.