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Photo Credit: Max Goldberg

How to Have Success with Social Media [ANSWERS]

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Some say that the future of business is whatever new social media platforms come forward in the years to come. Gone are the days of your sole marketing strategy consisting of handing out flyers at your local mall or town square. Flyers have been replaced with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a myriad of other platforms. Instead of reaching a hundred people in a day of work, you can reach a thousand people with the click of a button. Whether you go about it by sending out a ‘tweet’ or garnering ‘likes’ on your Facebook page, social media is the new future of business. With all the different ways to market on these sites, how is the best way to be successful with social media?

Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs for tips on how to be successful with social media.

 

Photo Credit: Jayme Pretzloff

Photo Credit: Jayme Pretzloff

Use photos to create a buzz

Companies have an opportunity to make a splash in the market even if they’re small because the Internet has shrunk the world in a way that allows us to connect so easily with buyers. When using social media platforms– especially Facebook– GET VISUAL! These platforms see high engagement levels with photos, so use photos to create a buzz about you. You can build a large tribe of followers who love your company and can contact you directly to purchase. This is perfect if you’re small and selling to consumers (B2C) because a Facebook page can work as effective as a website and reach potential clients.

Thanks to Jayme Pretzloff, Blue Line Defense

 

Photo Credit: Karen Macumber

Photo Credit: Karen Macumber

Customize your message for each audience base

Approach social media as you would any marketing channel – know your target audiences, customize your message appropriately for each audience, and set measurable marketing goals driven by your business goals. In the case of my latest startup, I wanted to get us business press coverage. I followed five well known journalists on Twitter, replied instantly when they posted requests for opinions on various startup topics and built a relationship. Most followed back. I was then careful to tweet the milestones we met, retweet other press we received, and generally build a real buzz around our brand. I even tweeted a picture of us doing some pretty crazy guerrilla marketing because I knew it would grab the attention of one of the journalists in particular (and it did). In the end all journalists wrote about us.

Thanks to Karen Macumber, Lifeables

 

Photo Credit: Michael Bal

Photo Credit: Michael Bal

Demographics aren’t enough any longer

Success in social media requires a deeper understanding of the audience you’re trying to reach. Demographics aren’t enough anymore. Instead, you have to understand what your customers care about, what they like, what they find funny (or not funny) and what problems that they have. Once you have a complete understanding of the customer you can use social media to develop a relationship, and then a community, around your brand.

Thanks to Michael Bal, Baseline21

 

Photo Credit: Sharon Woodhouse

Photo Credit: Sharon Woodhouse

Choose the best platforms for your company

Take an inventory of all your social media options–their scopes, audiences, features, cultures, best practices–then choose three or four that are right for you and/or your company. Create a simple plan, some rules of thumb, for how you will use each to your best advantage and consider the fastest way to do that as well so that social media doesn’t become an hours-long time-suck or a constant interference to the day’s real business. You don’t have to take advantage of everything that each medium offers. For example, I use LinkedIn primarily as a showcase for consulting endorsements, to post industry information, and to be a useful link for others. Certain types of news we want to share with others gets tossed in an email folder then is aggregated into a monthly e-newsletter. Other types of news gets posted directly onto Facebook when it comes our way. We also reserve Facebook for banter, feedback, interaction, and contests, all of which is posted only as it crops up or according to a strict schedule (e.g., once a week we post a new trivia question with prize). Twitter we use to gain more eyeballs and re-Tweet items of interest from our friends and partners…most tweeting is done while standing in lines, while on hold, etc. (i.e., our general rule of thumb is that random free moments is the kind of time we should share for most Twitter posts.

Thanks to Sharon Woodhouse, Lake Claremont Press

 

Photo Credit: Max Goldberg

Photo Credit: Max Goldberg

Abandon all social media doubts

The expression “social media” is almost redundant, because now in 2013, *all * media is social. You can’t even buy a blu-ray player at Best Buy that doesn’t connect to YouTube. The best advice you can receive if you have any reluctance, or *any* doubts, as to whether social media is useful to you, you must wholeheartedly abandon them immediately. You must dive fully into the social media landscape, and create every social account you or anyone you know finds relevant, and manage all of them through a single interface like Hootsuite. If this bothers you, frankly — tough. You must maximize efficiency, use the incredible tools society has birthed, and conquer the social challenges of the second decade of the 21st century.

Thanks to Max Goldberg, Shmedia Media LLC

 

Photo Credit: Jon Ambrose

Photo Credit: Jon Ambrose

Always provide value

As an entrepreneur, social media is crucial to my efforts in elevating my brand exposure and reputation. To maximize the return on my efforts, I follow one simple rule: Always provide value. Unfortunately many companies misuse social media by treating it like a public billboard and spray paint their message as often as they can. This does nothing more than drive away potential customers. Social media is meant to be just that: social. In each of my posts I seek to either entertain, inform, or announce something relevant to my followers and the general public. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, I always try to create posts that people will actually be happy to see and immediately look for the hide/ignore button.

Thanks to Jon Ambrose, RosieApp

 

Photo Credit: Sean Grace

Photo Credit: Sean Grace

Give people a reason to engage in your brand

Business owners often make the mistake of thinking social media works all on its own. Build a page and they will come. But, they don’t. Why? Well, why should they? Just because a consumer visits your store, buys your product, or uses your service doesn’t mean they want to get your content in their stream. If you want the chance to nurture that relationship, you must convince them that your brand holds value in the social space as well. Regular posts full of relevant content are the first step. There has to be something on your page to like, comment on, and share. But, take it a step further and offer an incentive to your fans. An exclusive offer your customer can’t get anywhere else gives them a real reason to become a fan. It builds loyalty, and can create a powerful group of online advocates as they share your offer with their friends. What’s more, it brings in revenue for your business when the offer is redeemed. After all, It’s this carryover into a real-world purchase that is the true mark of social media success.

Thanks to Sean Grace, CoupSmart

 

Think of social media as a tool for customers

Photo Credit: Enrique Tapias

Photo Credit: Enrique Tapias

Think of your social media sites as tools for customer service, communication, and brand awareness. When someone posts a negative comment on your site don’t erase or hide it, recognize the issue, apologize, and address it-don’t sweep it under the rug and hope that no one saw it or you’ll lose your credibility with consumers. Use analysis tools like Facebook Insights to see what types of posts engage users the most and make sure to choose content that is both relevant and interesting. PlayTales for example, creates interactive children’s bookstore apps that can be accessed through mobile phones and tablets. Our users are interested in things like kids and technology, literacy and reading news, all the new books and characters we feature in our apps, and any sort of parenting tips or fun information we can find. Staying in tune with what your followers want to know about your company and knowing what they are interested in is the key to running engaging and successful social media sites.

Thanks to Enrique Tapias, PlayTales S.L.

 

Photo Credit: Shara Darden

Photo Credit: Shara Darden

Encourage Communication

When you use social media platforms like Facebook to build relationships with customers, you need to find a way to get them involved. This means that the content you create is interesting, engaging, and asks for something from the client (besides their money of course). When you create a post, ask people for their opinion on a particular product or service you offer. Ask them what they like, don’t like, or think could be done better. Ask them to share their personal experiences with you. If it is around a special holiday season, then you might consider creating a post asking for a favorite holiday memory or tradition. Mention that your product makes a great gift or better still contact Facebook about making your product available through Facebook Gifts.

Thanks to Shara Darden, Firefly Marketing & PR, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: Russ Stoddard

Photo Credit: Russ Stoddard

Find your exchange/transaction balance

It’s very important to determine what your messaging mix will be on each social media platform. In order to have relevancy in your followers’ lives you should provide content that is topical, important, and fun (exchange). However, in order to see any kind of an ROI on social media you must also provide information about your brand and push your product/service (transaction). The balance between these two types of messaging can only be determined by listening to your audience. At Social Good Network, we’ve determined a 3 exchange to 1 transaction ratio suits our audience on Facebook, while a 1 exchange to 1 transaction works well on Twitter. Pinterest is mostly exchange, but we try to backlink to our site as much as possible. Of course these ratios are constantly adjusting as we listen to feedback and analyze data.

Thanks to Russ Stoddard, Social Good Network

 

Photo Credit: Joe Shaheen

Photo Credit: Joe Shaheen

Consistency wins over showboating

1. Know your audience: Attracting a following is not as simple as creating a Facebook or Twitter account and just mindlessly posting news and events that have nothing to do with your audience and that does not excite them. You have to ask yourself why would my audience prefer to hear about this topic or this event from me rather than from a major news network. I always suggest to my clients that they should talk to their customers an audience engaged in, perhaps even send them a Facebook message, and ask about what is it that they be interested to hear about from them. There has to be a level of engagement. 2. Consistency wins over showboating: if you decide to pursue social media as an avenue to put your message out there, you must be willing to do it consistently. Your audience have to see your message every day so that your brand eventually sticks with them doing a one-time flashy posting and then not engaging them for another six months will not get you anywhere. Working with social media is like developing a relationship, if you don’t nurture it, it will eventually die. 3. Relevancy is everything: if you feel like posting about something that happened a year ago feel free to do that, but please don’t expect that anyone is going to comment on it or perhaps even read it. People have many choices for their news and technical information, it is the relevancy that makes yours stick out from the crowd.

Thanks to Joe Shaheen, Human Alliance Ltd.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Ceresa

Photo Credit: Alessandra Ceresa

Have social media profiles

Any business that wishes to compete with their competitors and stay up to date with the current trends, must have social media profiles. It is also not enough just to have a Facebook or Twitter account anymore. A company that wishes to not only increase their SEO, but to establish themselves as a industry expert must go to where their customers are, and in this day and age, they are everywhere. Google+ is a crucial social network to have. Google+ content ranks high in search engines, and is therefore a great way to boost your SEO. Posting content a couple times a week on Google+ goes a long way. Google+’s new ‘Communities’ is also a great place to B2B networking. Join a community and engage with both your competitors as well as those in your industry. LinkedIn is another critical B2B and B2C networking website. Join Groups to engage with those looking for products or services in your area. As a business operating system, we are constantly looking for people asking about email marketing services, marketing automation, social media, etc. When we find these discussions on LinkedIn, we jump into the conversation and try to share our knowledge without sounding too promotional. It is a good way to introduce your company without sounding pushy. People are more likely to trust someone who gives an honest and insightful response, rather than pure promotion.

Thanks to Alessandra Ceresa, GreenRope

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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