When most people think of social media, they immediately think of Facebook, Twitter, and maybe the old days of MySpace. So when someone suggests that social media may be beneficial for your business you may think that those outlets are for personal use, and that you can’t see how you could utilize it for your business. The truth is, whether your target is consumers or other business professionals, social media is incredibly valuable for many reasons and there are more outlets than the few we mentioned above.
What is considered social media?
According to Wikipedia, “the term social media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” That means any digital outlet that allows you to establish a conversation. Below are some of the most common and effective social media outlets for business at this time.
Blogs – They’re not just for tech geeks and housewives. Utilizing a blog is one of the best and easiest ways to increase your search engine optimization and your thought leadership at the same time. Get your whole team involved so that no one is burdened with writing the bulk of the content. Just make sure that you post at least 4 times a month so that you can establish a following.
Newsletters – If blogging isn’t your style, or you don’t think you can commit to 4 posts a month, a newsletter might be a better solution. You will still be able to keep in touch with your clients, prospects and partners and let them know what you’re up to. Just make them in your site. This will do wonders for your search engine optimization.
Facebook – Here we go…this is what you were thinking when I initially mentioned social media. Facebook is a great place to really establish a brand and a conversation. Because Facebook is more of a laid back outlet, this is a great place to relax and let your fans really get to know you, your team and the true personality of your brand. Be sure to ask questions and post photos often to encourage engagement.
Twitter – If you’re not already on Twitter then it may seem like a foreign land with a foreign language. Like all forms of social media, there is a bit of a learning curve but Twitter has proven to be one of the most successful forms of online social engagement for businesses? Why? People subscribe to the feeds that are most relevant to their needs and actively engage in the conversation. Also, people on Twitter are expecting to talk about business.
LinkedIn – Some people have said LinkedIn is the Professional’s version of Facebook, and I guess it is in a way plus much more. You can definitely keep your network of contacts up to date with posts about what’s new with you and your business just like you can with Facebook. But you can also join professional groups and correspond in a forum setting with like-minded professionals to discuss all sorts of various business issues. Not to mention using your network to look for new staff and share recommendations.
Google+ – I don’t know much about this one yet but rest assured, it will be a major contender so I’d suggest looking in to it. I will be.
**For all of these outlets please remember that social media is not advertising and it doesn’t replace traditional advertising. These are not the places to constantly talk about how great you are and boast about your successes. You can do that from time to time, and should…but more importantly, you should provide your followers with information that demonstrates your expertise and establishes your personality. Remember, you want to keep them coming back for more.
Why social media matters:
SEO, Brand, Thought Leadership
SEO – Being involved in all of these social media avenues will help with your websites search engine ranking, and the more you get involved the better it will be for you. The inbound links from high ranking sites like YouTube and Twitter are awesome, but more importantly, the more you’re mentioned, and your links are shared, the better you will do. Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your search engine ranking because if you blog about topics that are relevant to your business, you will inevitably use the keywords people are searching for.
Brand – There is no better place to establish your band personality than social media. You can post photos of your team volunteering at a charity event or celebrating a big client win. You can boast about an internal contest your having, or promote your own event or client events and ask your followers to get involved or attend. Traditional marketing is controlled and one-sided but social media allows you to have a conversation.
Thought Leadership – It used to be that the only way to establish thought leadership was to write and publish a book and then go on a speaking tour. If you’re not a great writer, or don’t have the time to write an entire book, or go on tour…or if you are a smaller businesses that only targets local or regional customers then that approach would be a little over kill. Blogging, newsletters and other forms of social media allow you to establish your expertise one small post at a time and target the content with each post. Who knows, you might eventually develop a big enough following and write enough content that a book or speaking tour ends up making sense.
What are your thoughts or fears about social media? How have you used it to build your business?