One of the ways you can use social media platforms to promote you and your business is for social networking. The most common platforms for this to exist on is Twitter and LinkedIn and, in certain circles, Google +.
Twitter, especially, is very good at enabling micro and small businesses to connect with each other. This is due to its completely open format (anyone can see any tweet at anytime, without even having an account) and also its viral nature.
What online networking can’t get away from though is people’s need to connect in a more personal way, or in a face-to-face situation. Business relationships can be started and strengthened online but there is still no taking away from getting out and meeting those online contacts in real life. Whether it is at a networking meeting that has grown out of the social network, or in a one-to-one meeting.
My experience since I have moved to Norfolk reflects this. I have met other businesses and business professionals who I had already started to follow/communicate with on Twitter before I moved here, and now have strong relationships with. I am in no doubt that by regularly seeing these contacts at business networking meetings and Tweetups, and communicating with them online in-between, that my business relationship with them has been accelerated.
I am a regular attendee of the Fabcom Final Friday networking meetups. At the last meeting I met a new member who I didn’t have a chance to exchange business cards with, but I found and introduced myself to him through LinkedIn and have subsequently already refereed some business to him.
I am also one of the organisers of Norfolk Tweetup. Tweetups happen all over the world as an opportunity for Tweeters to get together and the Norfolk Tweetup is no different. It has now been running for nearly a year and is well attended. I have seen Tweeters strike up an immediate rapport with a fellow local business at these events, that they have never physically met before, but have engaged with on Twitter.
Social media and social networking are now an integral and essential part of any business marketing plan. Like any tools they need to be used properly to achieve the best results and combining online social networking with face-to-face networking is the best way to promote you and your business.
If you would like to learn more about how to use social media to promote you and your business come along to one of my social media workshops.
2012 is going to see social media develop and grow even more. No longer the preserve of geeks and teenagers, social media is now recognised as form of marketing that is being used readily by big corporations and small businesses to spread their messages.
Organisations can no longer just dip their toes in and ‘have a go’ at social media. To have an impact and credible presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter they need a cohesive social media strategy and plan for content.
These are some tools you can use and things to consider when creating such a plan:
1. Review your general marketing/PR activity for the year. Is there anything that lends itself to being talked about solely, or heavily just through your social media channels e.g. participation in a recognised event, launch of a new product, partnering with other organisations?
2. Decide where you are looking to push traffic to from any activity. Your blog, your website, a bespoke website/landing page or another social media channel.
3. Use all activity as an opportunity to gain more fans/followers and tag and engage with other organisations.
4. Look up what national days/weeks are planned for the year: http://projectbritain.com/specialdays.htm
Do any ‘fit’ with your organisations activities/products? If so plan some activity to coincide with them and then you can tag any tweets/updates and become part of the trending topic that will inevitably happen to mark the national day/week.
5. Continually monitor your feeds and trending topics to see if there is anything relevant to your organisation that you can hook into.
6. Use photos and video regularly as part of updates and encourage fans to upload photos and videos and tag you in them. In general an update with a link will encourage 37% engagement whilst and update with a video will encourage 45% engagement (source: Eloqua).
7. Consider running a competition (being careful to abide by the rules for the platform you are running it on). Even a simple competition such as giving something away when you reach, say 500 followers on Twitter can increase engagement and reach.
All activity should have the objective of raising your organisations profile, spreading key messages and engaging.
If this all seems a bit daunting you can always employ the expertise of a social media agency to help you with this stage and set you on the path to being active and engaging in the world of social media.
With the emergence of online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn it has never been easier to connect with people that you would like to do business with – but have they replaced the need to network in real life?
All three of these social networking platforms are very different in the way they function but the one thing they all have in common is that they quickly and easily allow people to connect and communicate with each other.
Just in case you don’t know the story, this online network was set-up in a college to allow students to find, rate and communicate with each other. Its growth and popularity with the public at large has led it to be the biggest online network in the world, currently at over 800 million users and growing. As well as individuals having a presence, brands and businesses can also set-up pages and advertise on this forum. Some would say that the complex and commercial nature of the current Facebook takes it too far away from its roots – a simple to use, online networking database.
In many ways this is a much simpler online network. It is easy to follow and un-follow people and businesses and manage how they show in your feed. It is a fantastic source as a real-time news feed and is growing in popularity every day. The ease with which you can build your own network of like-minded Tweeters within the vastness of Twitter makes it a great place to connect with other business and potential customers online.
This is as close as you can get to professional face-to-face networking online. Personal profiles are based around professional qualifications and work history. This is a great forum for finding, connecting with and getting in touch with acquaintances.
All of these platforms allow you to connect and engage with people you would like to get to know and do business with but they cannot replace face-to face networking, only enhance it.
The need for us to meet and analyse each other in person is still essential to business – after all, people buy people. What these social networking sites allow us to do is continuing to have a dialogue in-between the meetings or start a relationship online that becomes a meeting.
Online social networking and face-to-face networking should work hand in hand to enable you to expand your contact database and communicate well with your existing contacts.
1. You will probably find a lot of the businesses you are working with are on there.
2. You can build an online network of local, national and international businesses from your office chair.
3. If you follow a business you have synergy with they will almost always follow you back.
4. It is easy to tag a business you have met-up with/are working with in a Tweet to give them recognition.
5. It is easy to update businesses you work with any news (once you have built up a following).
6. Unless you are blocked you can follow anyone so can easily keep an eye on what competitors are saying.
7. You can follow business publications and bloggers to be kept up-to-date with current trends/industry news.
8. You can position yourself as an industry specialist by Tweeting links back to blogs/articles on-line.
9. Your Tweets can be searched and read by more than your followers if you hash tag key and industry words.
10. You can build a rapport with a business that you don’t yet know by re-tweeting and replying to their Tweets.
Related Blog Post: Top tips to getting the most from Twitter
After a quiet launch in June by invite only, Google+ is now open to all and has also launched the ability for companies and organisations to set-up brand pages.
Google+ has reached 40 million users in the short time it has been live. Yes it is still a long way off of Facebook’s 800 million, but it is owned by Google, who also own YouTube. 66% of searches in US are done on Google – this major web presence and ability to drive traffic has huge potential in making Google+ brand pages very appealing to businesses.
Google will have to be careful not to flout fairness laws but it would be difficult for the search engine not to push pages in one of its own sites up the search rankings wouldn’t it?
These cross-web affiliations are the key to making Google+ a success. From a marketing point of view the appeal of having a brand presence on a social media platform that can pull upon tools such as Google Analytics for data analysis and have a direct influence on search and sharing capabilities is very alluring.
Alongside this, for the consumer, Google+ is pretty user friendly and not majorly dissimilar from Facebook (What is Google+ and should my organisation be using it). So mass migration of users over to it is not an unlikely prospect.
The only downsides at the moment are that there is no ability to run adverts on the platform to push traffic to pages and there doesn’t seem to be the ability for pages to like pages. I am sure thought that with time these, and many other facilities, will be developed and added.
Yes Facebook and Twitter are still increasing users but in this age we are always looking for the next big thing and Google+’s ease of use and links to the biggest search engine in the world will make it a big player on the social media scene.
Tagging is one the most simple and effective tools of social media marketing. It works differently in different platforms but all to the same end of increasing engagement and visibility of what you are saying.
In Facebook you can tag photos, and now friends and places, in status updates. For business use though the most effective form of tagging is the @ tag in updates. If your page is a fan of other pages they can be tagged in a post by inserting the @ symbol and typing the name of the page. If you then hit return this creates a link to that page and will also notify that page that it has been tagged. This in turn should stimulate some sharing and engagement with those tagged.
Tagging on Twitter has more options and the ability to make your 140 character update have even more reach. @ tagging on Twitter serves a similar purpose to how it works on Facebook. If you use insert the @ symbol into a Tweet and start typing one of the usernames of someone you follow it should bring them up in a list that you can then select from and tag that person in your Tweet. This then means that they are guaranteed to see that Tweet as it will come up in their ‘Mentions’ feed rather than get lost in the very fast moving ‘Home’ feed. If they are an active Tweeter this should stimulate them to reply and provide the start of some engagement.
# tagging on Twitter serves two purposes. By # tagging a word e.g. #socialmedia you are helping to make it part of, what eventually could become, a ‘Trending Topic’. If multiple Tweets # tag the same word/topic they become part of a big conversation on Twitter and move up the trending list.
# tagging also gives those words the ability to be ‘seen’ more easily by those who are following those subjects. There are various tools /apps that have been created for Twitter that give users the ability to search for or be notified about Tweets that contain certain words. So again # tagging key words in your Tweet will enable it to be seen rather than get lost in the fast moving home feed.
You can easily use social media to market your business if you concentrate on the three principles of; having good content, sending that content at the right times and remembering that it is a two way process by engaging..
If you want people to ‘like’ your Facebook page or not stop following you on Twitter you need to make your content (your status update or Tweets) interesting to your followers. People will have generally ‘liked’ or followed you because they are interested in what your company does so make sure that you content is always true to what you do. For example, if you are a wine shop then post content about new wines you are stocking, deals you have on and little gems about the wine industry. Don’t moan about customers or talk about having to leave early to get your car fixed!?! A great way to regularly update interesting and relevant content is by linking to your own blog or a relevant article that someone else in the industry has written.
This is currently a hot topic in the world of social media and there are even tools such as WhentoTweet and TweetStats that can help you see when your followers are most active and time your updates so they have the best chance of being seen. Best practice says that you should be looking to update your Facebook page 3 to 4 times a week and your Twitter 3 to 4 times a day. The reason you need to be on Twitter more is that the feeds move faster to you have more chance of being seen. However, if you tag your posts correctly they should be getting seen by the right people anyway.
This is probably the most important part of using social media properly. If you are not engaging you may as well not be using these platforms as a form of marketing. You need to be checking all of your sites at least once a day to see if anyone has posted on your wall or mentioned you in a Tweet and you should ALWAYS respond in some way, even if it is just to say ‘thank you’ or suggest taking things offline it is a complaint (so that the rest of your followers know that you haven’t just deleted the complaint or ignored it). You should look to respond as quickly as possible and as a minimum within 24 hours.
If you start with these basic principles of social media there is no reason why you cannot become successful at using it to market your business or organisation. And, as with anything, the more you use it the better you will become and it will all soon seem like second nature.
From the many conversations I have about social media one thing is apparent, that it still seems like a scary other world to most people.
This is a shame because using it for business is a great way of getting information and messages out and engaging with customers and other businesses.
Social media is just another medium in which to spread your message and also, in the opposition to more traditional forms of marketing, engage in conversation with your audience.
However, it is important that all ‘posts’, ‘tweets’ and/or ‘status updates’ must reflect and reinforce the organisations brand. This is why I would recommend that any brand that is thinking of dipping its toe into the world of social media marketing, or already has a presence there, seriously considers putting in place some kind of strategy or hiring a social media agency.
Yes, it is widely thought that the best thing to do to get started is get set-up and start posting/tweeting/following but if you aren’t following the right people or putting out the right messages you could, potentially, be damaging your brand’s reputation.
- Melanie on Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work
- Keith Osborn on Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work
- Why you need a Content Strategy to make Social Media work - Social Monkey on Social Media Workshops
- Social Networking - Why Face-to-Face is still important on Norfolk Tweetup
- Melanie on Norfolk Tweetup