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Not buying into the Facebook Frenzy? Sick of being asked to follow your friends on Twitter? Feel like you might burst if one more person tries to connect with you on LinkedIn? Don’t know or care what a blog is?
Even if these questions apply to you on a personal level, the truth of the matter is that now, more than ever before, large and small companies are testing out the waters with the implementation of a social media strategy
In this tough economic climate, social media is a cost-effective way to get your message out to prospective customers. Whether we are talking about a YouTube video, Facebook Profile, Twitter page, or an onsite blog, social media is sizzling hot right now and is literally all around us. Many clients I speak with are allocating a respectable budget for social media efforts this year. According to a recent article by the Aberdeen Group, a leading provider of fact-based research, 21% of best-in-class companies are looking to increase their social media marketing budgets more than 25% in 2009.
A concern I often hear from clients is that they do not fully understand social media enough to invest the time and/or budget to focus on it; especially when they do not utilize these networks on a personal level. The unknown is always a bit scary, but diving into social media and embracing the unknown is well worth it. MoreVisibility ran a social media boot camp series last month, which highlighted: Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and YouTube, all of which are being professionally utilized by a growing number of companies. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from the webinar series.
Don’t be such a skeptic. Embrace the art of “collaborative content” and experience all of the benefits! Let social media work for you the way it is working for a growing number of companies, large and small. Then, you can even “tweet” about it on Twitter!
By now I am sure that you have heard of Twitter. People are using it to connect with others to share small bits of information. “Twitterers” are using this service to keep in contact with old friends, follow celebrity gossip or even look for business products and information. As a business, it is important to have a custom Twitter channel to help capture some of these users who may be searching for what you are tweeting about.
As you build a following on Twitter, it can be increasingly difficult to manage. With more followers comes more interaction, and with thousands of followers, keeping those interactions personal and up to date can be difficult. Luckily, many third party developers have been designing applications to help with the management of your Twitter channel. Below are a few of my favorites that can help businesses manage their Twitter channel.
Tweet3 – This service is great for businesses that may have multiple Twitter channels. Some businesses have a channel for the main business and another channel for their customer service department. Tweet3 allows you to have one central place to log in and manage all of your Twitter channels. This can help you to organize your channels better without having to log into separate accounts. It also contains an analytics package that will help you to track your tweets, followers and interactions.
CoTweet – Some businesses have one Twitter channel with multiple people wanting to create tweets and interact with customers. CoTweet Beta is a great tool for that. It allows many people to share information through a Twitter channel, while retaining their personal identity if desired.
TwitterHawk – This is well suited for those with a larger budget. TwitterHawk allows you to create custom responses to users who search for “keywords” you predetermine. When a Twitter user mentions your search criteria, a tweet is sent to them automatically on your behalf. You can have up to 5 auto responses, and the cost is five cents per tweet sent.
Mobile Applications – With the advent of many mobile Twitter applications, now anyone can Tweet from anywhere, no matter what kind of device you have. Now you don’t have to be bound by your computer to make updates throughout the day. You can use your phone to send updates about what you are doing from anywhere. For a list of the most popular mobile twitter applications broken down by device, please visit: http://mashable.com/2008/12/21/twitter-mobile-applications/
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.