“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, it’s how well we do it.” – Erik Qualman
Social media is a hot topic, and for good reason. Trends shift constantly in business, generally influenced by economic, political or technological factors – but social media is a result of the trifecta. Business owners now know they must incorporate social media into their marketing strategies, but most don’t know what that entails.
There are a number of people who can give you the “How To” in terms of creating a business page on Facebook, posting a video on YouTube or creating a LinkedIn profile – but simply having a presence online isn’t enough. You need to know how to engage on different platforms, and you must measure your results to determine if you’re getting any ROI.
The 3 keys to successful social media in business:
1. Define your Goals
What do you want to achieve through social media? If you’re just doing it because you think you have to, well, you need to stop and examine your business development strategy.
Identify your Ideal Client Profile:
– Where are they?
– What are their interests?
Now, what do you want to gain by engaging in social media?
– Increased website traffic?
– Immediate e-commerce results?
– Expanding your brand’s geographic reach?
2. Outline your Strategy
Once you have clear goals you can create a solid strategy. It’s important to remember that social media is only a piece of marketing, and it shouldn’t be your entire plan. Depending on your business, industry and location, you can separate your plan into 2 segments: Brand Communication and Face to Face (or Relationships). Keep in mind, it takes 6-8 “touches” to close a sale, meaning, a potential client interacts with you nearly 10 times before they do business with you. Social media is a fantastic way to close the gap between these “touches.”
– Emails, newsletters, greeting and holiday cards, advertising, PR, online tools and resources – these are all ways to increase brand awareness. It must be consistent, not intrusive.
Face to Face
– Relationships are critical. Don’t forget about the “social” part of “social media.”
– Attending events and trade shows, networking, being active in your community – these are all ways to engage on the Face to Face level.
Incorporate Social Media
– Now you’re going to pull from all of those efforts to create content for your social media outlets – but first, you have to know your platform and your audience (because they’re all different!)
Think of it as the personal side of your business. Share pictures from community events to illustrate your involvement and the causes you support. Invite your “fans” to join you for happy hour and tag the watering hole (if the venue is managing their social media the way they should be, they’ll prepare for your visit and your post becomes an example of “social-media-in-action full circle”).
Here you can follow thought leaders and share insights – you can choose who to follow, rather than being totally dependent upon someone choosing to “like” you. Although your goal will be to build “followers,” by following those who interest you and interacting with them, your audience will grow organically.
An example of this is seeing a post from Forbes about Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO) and his incredible leadership. Now you can share this with your followers, giving them an awesome resource, as well as connecting with Marc Benioff and Forbes!
Only 6 years old and named the 2nd largest search engine (behind Google, of course). It’s your chance to show people what you have going on – because it’s used as a search engine, your video (if properly optimized with keywords) will begin appearing in the results of these searches.
There is a fantastic example of this by Central Coast Surfboards. They were moving to a new location several blocks down the street and instead of loading all the surfboards into trucks and hauling them, they called upon their clients and employees to carry the boards in a long procession through town (which ended up being about 200 yards long). They put a clip on YouTube and have more than 450 views. What an awesome example of old school guerrilla marketing mixed with the new capabilities of social media!
Think of it similar to Facebook, but professional, not personal. Build connections, share your blog, join “groups” relevant to your business – and participate in them – make yourself known. You’ll exhibit your expertise, build your following, and have a new source of referrals!
3. Measure your Results
Last, but certainly not least, you have to track your efforts. Are you meeting your goals? Is your website traffic increasing and from where are your visitors coming?
Utilize available online tools
– Google Analytics and email services like MailChimp provide accurate and critical data. There are many tools out there – Facebook has “Insights” for pages and Hubspot has a Twitter grader. Just implementing these tools gives you a place to start. (And speaking of awesome tools, if you’re not familiar with Hubspot, you should be.)
Create a tracking document
– This allows you to capture the big picture of your efforts and results on a monthly basis (you should be watching it daily based on a “past 30 days” segment, but record your figures monthly). Now you can see the fluctuation of website traffic, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, event attendees, YouTube video views, and mailing list and blog subscribers. You should be utilizing your strategy and setting your goals to continually improve these results.
Identify lead sources!
– You should have manageable categories to classify all of your marketing activities, including online / social media segment.
Face to Face: Event
Face to Face: Volunteer / Community
Face to Face: Networking Group
Brand Communication: Email / Newsletter
Brand Communication: Advertisement
Brand Communication: Social Media
– With a CRM such as Salesforce, you can indicate the “Lead Source” for every opportunity and create a report to show you which marketing efforts are paying off – literally. If you don’t have a system to help you, simply make it part of your routine to record the source of each customer and make it part of your tracking sheet. You might be surprised at the results!
Finally, review and revamp
– If you see that something is working, you may want to consider how you can improve it or take it to the next level. If you are putting efforts into something that isn’t providing value, move on.
Once you have this system in place, you will begin to fully realize all of the marketing activities you have in motion, and which ones are the most valuable. You will streamline your business development, concentrating your time and money where it yields the highest ROI — and you’ll have the measurements to prove it!