Social media marketing has exploded over the last 24 months. Sites promoting visitor interaction have helped showcase the power of viral content on the web today. Early social media sites such as Digg, Stumble Upon, Delicious & MySpace showed us that we can learn a great deal more from other people and do not have to be completely dependent on search engines to influence what we look at or how we learn online today.
In the last 2 years we have witnessed burgeoning growth in what some would call ‘next generation’ social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Many people in business wonder – “How can social media benefit my business and why should I put effort and/or resources into developing an online voice for my company?”
“Is there a place for business in social media marketing?”
“Is it worth my time to get my business involved in social media marketing?”
The answer is – you can’t afford NOT to.
I am writing this article to help explain just why your business (and every business) needs to be interested in developing an online persona and how to do it.
Why Does My Company Need To Be Involved In Social Media?
There are 3 major benefits of being involved in social media marketing.
- Increased brand recognition
- Free advertising & marketing
Understanding How Social Media Works
Social Media Follows The Same Rules Newspapers from 100+ Years Ago Did
It’s true. Social media works in the very same format that traditional media like newspapers and magazines from more than 100+ years ago did. A successful newspaper or magazine got that way because they built up a loyal subscriber base.
Once the publication had enough subscribers interested in the content on the topic it wrote about, it became a viable business. It would grow because it had a loyal paying subscriber base. Once this subscriber base grew, so did the ability of the newspaper or publication to influence people. Once the newspaper or publication had a loyal demographic it could then begin charging more dollars for advertising space.
Success in social media is no different than success in traditional media
The information revolution and dot.com age has meant the decentralization of traditional media and an incredible rise in the voice of the individual. (and business)
Success in social media marketing is directly related to the amount of people that care about what you have to say. In social media the way someone ‘cares’ about what you have to say is basically the amount of subscribers that you have developed.
Same thing as newspapers did ages ago.
The graphic below illustrates the correlation between the success of building a loyal subscriber base in traditional media to email marketing in the late 1990’s to the rise of social media today.
Some other important things you should know about creating social media profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace etc.
- It’s free.
- Needs to be updated frequently to build interest.
- Should come across more as informative than promotional.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing For Your Company
Using the traditional media example you should understand now the value of having a loyal subscriber base. Here are just some of the benefits of getting involved in building an online persona on sites like Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube.
If you have a loyal group of people interested in reading what you have to say then you have influence. Think having influence amongst people interested in what you have to say has any power? It seems to me that in the past the only types of companies with this type of power also were generally known as industry leaders.
Be Perceived As An Industry Leader
If people are following your updates and you are in a particular niche you likely have a very focused following. If you are active in the social media community and you have a large list then you will be perceived as an industry leader by those that follow you. This will become a reality more and more as social media grows. Get a subscriber base following you now and you will be a leader several years from now as the industry evolves.
Better Search Engine Rankings
We see it all the time. People search our own company name, ‘TechWyse’ into Google, Yahoo! and Bing to see what comes up. The more positive items that come up the happier a prospect considering doing business will be. Social media sites come up very high in the SERPS. They are generally considered authority domains. This is just another way to create a buzz and control the information that displays about your company in search engines. Some know this as ‘reputation management’.
If You Don’t Do Social Marketing Your Competitor Will
How many times have you seen someone in your industry much smaller than you appear much bigger online? I remember many years ago when SEO and internet marketing were very new. Who do you think the first people were to catch onto the financial benefits of ranking well on search engines? The small guys. Years later bigger business is now catching up. It is no different in social media. If you are part of a bigger company – my recommendation is to open your eyes now.
I Understand The Concept – Now Where Do I Start?
Each company can obviously have different areas that they choose to concentrate their time and resources in social media marketing. For 95% of all companies you should be starting by creating profiles on both Facebook and Twitter. Many other companies will gain a following on these social media sites first and then will venture into other areas as they gain more experience and education in the area.
- Here is a list of social media sites that you may want to investigate once up to speed on both Facebook and Twitter.
- Setting up your profiles – Here is some more information on creating both your business Facebook Fan Page and your Twitter profile.
Once you have created your profile in either of these sites you communicate to the world by simply making status updates related to what you do. In many cases, if you find information that relates to your company you talk about it briefly and add a link pointing to that article.
How Will I Build My List Of Subscribers?
The purpose of this article is lightly educate on social media for business. You can find more detailed articles on this blog and many more to follow this.
To put it in simple terms, you will begin building your fans (Facebook) and/or followers (Twitter) in any of the following ways:
- Include only relevant information to your company and point to relevant articles that your subscriber base would appreciate reading. If you have an active blog this is a great way to get people reading the information you are posting.
- For Facebook, begin participating on other fan pages. If you see any posts related to anything you have posted then reference it!
- In both Twitter and Facebook use the search utilities using keywords related to what you do and begin helping or commenting peoples updates. If you are helpful, people will appreciate this and will often begin following your own updates.
- On Twitter you can search using the search utility for related keywords. If you ‘follow’ people related to what you post about, many people as a courtesy will ‘follow’ you back. Beware though – do not just ‘follow’ anyone. You want a relevant list of people that care about what you are writing about. So read someone’s profile. If you like what they write about ‘follow’ them. They may see what you post about and choose to ‘follow’ you right back!
- Include your Twitter and Facebook profile (or any other social utility you are committing to) on your blog, website, and even your email signature. Let people know you are interacting online so they can choose to find and follow you! You can see on our blog that we place these links prominently.
Tips To Get Started In Social Media
There are many simple tips and tricks to get you started. These are the very basic to get you started.
Offer Information not promotion
Remember that people want to follow your updates because they have found your previous posts interesting and/or relevant to their own industry. Information is value. If you choose to promote yourself rather than inform your loyal following will quickly dwindle. Use social media as a tool to educate – not promote!
Update regularly to build interest
The more helpful information that you add to your Twitter or Facebook account the more relevant people you will get to subscribe. As a rule of thumb I suggest adding a new status update once per day. This is enough to keep people interested and not too much that people choose to delete you. Think about that television commercial you keep seeing over and over again. Even the good ones you get sick of. 1 or 2 status per day is usually sufficient.
Become involved in other related pages and make comments
Use the search features of Twitter or comment on other peoples Facebook updates and point them to helpful areas if applicable. You can also use the Facebook email system to update fans of new information or ask them to invite their own friends. Be careful to not exploit this feature, and always provide helpful information.
Use 3rd party products to update easily
Some cool tools will help you become more efficient with updates:
TweetDeck – update your status in TweetDeck and it will post to both your Twitter and Facebook account (you can toggle this off and on.) You can also shorten URL’s using this tool which allows you to put more meat in your updates.
TweetDeck for iPhone – one of our favorites for quick iPhone updates.
Sideline – use this product to do advanced searches on Twitter.
Summing Up Social Media for Business
The purpose of this article was to offer an overview of social media, benefits for business and companies to start getting involved, and a small primer to get you started. Hopefully you can benefit from some of the things mentioned.
Still want more? Here are a few more interesting things to keep you going:
- Want to see who the most followed profiles are on Twitter?
- Michael Jackson rules with Facebook Fans. See the top 30 Fan pages here.
- Oprah just went on Twitter in April 2009 and already has 2.5 million followers.
- If you like this article here is a great Twitter profile you can follow to keep getting more great updates. www.twitter.com/techwyse.
- We also have a Facebook fan page that you can join.
If you have any key points you would like to add make sure to mention them in the comments below.
I don’t understand why marketers are equating social media itself to an SEO form. My 2 cents is -performing social media for the sake of SEO is the worst kind.