The Social Media Big Picture
Back in 2006 when Facebook was a tiny community of procrastinating college students, Bill Gates famously stated "Content is King." Over the past 6 years, social media has exploded. There are now over 230 million Tweets published daily. How does a small business get noticed, gain a loyal following and generate revenue among the 1 billion active Facebook users? Your inbound marketing strategy needs to see the big picture of social media, and make sure you're using the networks to their full advantage:
1. Write Up a Plan
Success might be as simple as putting your social media strategy in writing. Research has indicated that strategic users are almost three times as likely to engage with real prospects who can contribute to their company's bottom line. Inbound marketing strategy has become a key phrase in the marketing world because you just can't get very far without one. A very basic road map for social media success will have the following three components:
Assess: How much time can you really dedicate to social media monitoring, scheduling posts and engaging with fans? Which networks are you going to build and maintain a presence on?
Monitor: How is your share of voice in the conversations about your industry? What's your engagement rate? What about sentiment, referral traffic and your ROI? You don't need to drown in data, but you should have a few key social media metrics that you monitor and measure on a regular basis.
You can't automate responses to customer complaints and compliments, but you can schedule distribution of your blog content to maintain a consistent presence on Twitter and Facebook around the clock. Set a daily schedule of social media monitoring and scheduling. It doesn't need to take more than 20 minutes a day!
3. Consider Social Media Content Carefully
Think before you Tweet. As more than a few major brands and some 2012 London Olympians have experienced firsthand, it's always wise to think first and hit "publish" second. Radian6 recommends that small business brands put their potential social media content through a multi step checklist:
Is the Topic Fresh and Trending? You should discuss current events, especially if they're relevant to your industry! Learn how to use hashtags on Twitter as a barometer for trending issues, topics and conversations.
Is My Competition Covering It? It's not good for your social media engagement levels, website traffic or brand image if you're consistently covering the same topics as your competitor, one day behind. Make a point of differentiating by scoping out their social media profiles, and introducing distinctly different topics, questions and campaigns.
Do I Enjoy it? You can't fake passion or interest when it comes to blogging. Turns out, you can't feign interest on social media, either. Your content will have more depth if you're passionate enough to add a personalized twist or some extra insight.
4. Become a Leader, Not a Follower
Every small business owner should be using social media with an ultimate goal of gaining a significant amount of share of voice. You want to build a reputation as someone who's contributing significantly to thought, right? Getting to the top requires networking on social media. Find the people who are currently leading conversations in your industry, whether it's agricultural equipment or inbound marketing strategy. Engage with them, retweet their content and comment on their blogs. By building a mutual relationship, they will begin to bring visibility to your work with retweets.
Build Twitter lists and promote the content. Don't just focus on promoting your own work, but curate great work in the field. Find relevant groups on social media networks like LinkedIn, and strike up other conversations. Join Quora and start answering questions. There are a myriad of opportunities to use social media to establish a reputation as an expert, but it's going to take some hard work.
Crowdsourcing, the concept of using digital media to tap into the minds of many, has been a trending topic in the news lately. New Mother and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took to Twitter to ask for some feedback on baby names after the recent birth of her son. While you don't need to name your baby via social media, using the platform to gain insight into your followers is bright. Running a successful crowdsourcing campaign for insight into your next product may be as simple as offering a reward to the winner. What can you offer the winning contributor? It doesn't need to be a large cash prize, though it certainly wouldn't hurt. Giving them visibility on your company blog and social media page might be all it takes, especially if you've built a significant following on the networks.
How Does Your Company Use Social Media to Generate Buzz, Revenue, Insight and Thought Leadership?
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