Social media networks are valuable for marketing as they enable companies to build a personality outside of their website, express points of view on various topics and share their industry expertise within communities where they can build relationships with potential customers.
Social media marketing is becoming more and more prominent, however, building a company presence can be a headache if it is not approached in a thoughtful manner. It seems as though many companies are not sure how to begin even though they may be familiar with channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, on a personal level. To get started on the right foot, there are a few things to take into consideration.
The first two questions that are important to answer are: “Why should my company have a presence within the channel(s)?” and “What should my company strive to achieve (what are the goals) within the channel(s)?” Without being able to answer these questions, how will you know if you are successful? Once you can answer these, you may also find it a bit easier to establish a “voice” for your company.
Take into consideration who will be managing the channel(s). This can be approached in different ways. For instance, have you decided to launch a social media presence for customer service purposes? Or, is your presence intended to be a means for your company leaders to share information or industry specific news from a management level perspective? The voice that you portray and who manages your channel(s) will obviously go hand in hand.
You should also know your audience. Once you identify who you are trying to reach, you can determine the channels that are the best fit for your company. Don’t forget to research smaller, industry specific communities that may exist relevant to your business. Individuals within these niche communities will likely be better targets for potential customers. Although there will be a smaller audience, the audience will likely be more relevant for what you have to contribute. Recognizing your audience will also help you to tailor your messaging. Should you share industry information, promotions, special offerings, company news, or all of the above?
Without knowing the answers to the questions above, you may find yourself without a clear direction for your social media marketing efforts, leading to a disappointing or overwhelming experience.
I recently took a trip to see friends and family, and while I was there my sister told me to “friend” my aunt on Facebook. Although I know Facebook’s popularity has been growing not only among the college-aged users, the fact that my aunt was now an active user made me sit back and think about the growth of Facebook among all adults, especially within the last year.
As Facebook continues to mature, so do its demographics. Presently, according to Inside Facebook, nearly 45% of Facebook users are over the age of 26, and almost a quarter of users are over the age of 35. Surprisingly enough, the age group that is growing the fastest is women, age 55+. From September 2008 to February 2009, this age group grew approximately 175%! (Males within the same age group only grew 135%). Another group that has experienced tremendous growth is users age 45+ (around 165% during the same time frame).
When my own relatives tell me that I need to be on Facebook (little do they know, I have been for years), and when I come across these numbers, I can’t help but think about the opportunities from a marketer’s perspective. It is no longer a place to reach only the college-age consumers.
While I understand that social media marketing can be somewhat daunting if you haven’t approached a social network from this angle before, don’t let that cause you to shy away from the potential that exists for your company or organization. Facebook users sign up to re-connect with old friends and meet others who have common interests, share similar activities, beliefs, views, etc. Use the information that is provided to target your ads or your marketing message and communicate with those who could become potential customers. One of the best things about Facebook is that it can fit into any budget, creating very little barriers in order to participate. So don’t let a little hesitation prevent you or your company from delving into Facebook as a marketing channel. You could be passing up a wonderful opportunity to reach a whole new audience from a different perspective.