So you’ve realized that social media is important and here to stay. You have a personal Facebook account and perhaps have even gotten into Twitter. Tagging pictures of friends and tweeting about the sandwich you’re currently eating is one thing, but how do you build a successful social media presence for your business? Posting random tweets about the office cat, or worse yet, sending out spammy promotional messages and adverts for business products and services is a recipe for social media failure. Here are four steps we recommend to customers trying to build traction in social media.
1. Research > 2. Participate > 3. Create > 4. Invite & Promote
It’s highly recommended you follow these steps in order, starting with research.
Step 1: Research
All social media sites exist as conversations between people. Chances are there are people already talking about your company, brand, competitors, or industry in general. Doing a bit of research will go a long way to understanding how customers really feel about your products and services, what they like and the frustrations they face. Three great places to start your research are Twitter Search, WhosTalkin, and Social Mention. Enter your company name, brands, or other keywords relevant to your industry. If you or your competitors have Yelp pages, you can Monitor Yelp Reviews on Your iGoogle Page. Other popular sites you may wish to monitor include:
Step 2. Participate
Once you have done some initial research, it’s time to join and participate on the sites your existing or potential customers are most active. Start by making the majority of your posts or tweets responses to existing conversations. Respond to Twitter users, Yelp reviewers, individual blog posts, forum posts, YouTube videos and more. Become a respected member of the online community. Use your real name and a photo of yourself versus a company logo for your avatar. People want to know that they are connecting to a human being, not a corporate role (e.g. – “Karen Carter, Nike Customer Care” versus “WidgetSoft Tech Support”). Represent your brand but avoid being spammy. Build equity in your name and your company by the quality of your responses.
Step 3. Create
Once you have made social network connections and actively participated in other online blogs and forums, it’s time to start creating your own content. Great ways to start are creating a company blog, setting up a business Facebook page, a Twitter account, and possibly a YouTube channel if you are able to produce videos. The content you create will be unique to your business but you should have plenty of ideas based on your research and participation on other websites. Just remember — advertisements and promotional content provide little value to readers so find other ways to reference your products or services. For example, if you manufacture running shoes, blog about marathon training. If you sell computer parts, create YouTube how-to videos on replacing RAM and upgrading hard drives.
Step 4. Invite & Promote
By now, you should have made some social media connections. You’ve done the research, participated in existing online forums, and are now starting to create your own content. It’s time to invite your new contacts to follow your blog and other social media channels. Be sure to include your business social media URLs everywhere possible — on your main website header, sidebar, or footer, in your email signature, and in your profile information on other websites. Speaking of, we invite you to follow TrendMedia using the social media icons on our own website header.
Follow these basic steps and your business will be well on the road to social media success.
If you are interested in establishing a social media presence or integrating the latest social networking tools into an existing website, TrendMedia offers all the tools and talent you need. Engage with us on a project-basis or for professional services — contact TrendMedia today.
Author | Brian McNitt
Brian’s career path zigzagged from pre-med at Purdue University to bike racing and a career in sales and marketing for Schwinn and other bicycle companies. That was until the inception of the World Wide Web, when he took his science and marketing background full force into web design. He was a founding member of Montclare Technologies—one of the first and hottest interactive agencies in the U.S. In 2000, he founded TrendMedia, a San Francisco-based web design and interactive agency. Brian is now one of the leading experts in web technology and social media, and is a recognized authority in web accessibility, WordPress and SEO.