Friday, 22 February 2013

How to make social work for you

If you are just starting out on your commercial social networking journey or have reached the point where you need to enhance the work of your SEO/Social media company with your own responsive socialising, then here are some tips to help you on your way.

When looking at other companies and wondering how they built their presence up online you could be forgiven for thinking they have earned that position simply because of their size, but social media, like organic search is not just about domination by the big boys, it is about clever marketing strategies and hard work.

Ideally you will need to be working towards building up a network of quality followers but this does not happen overnight  - building a following takes time and effort and it is a continual process.
If you haven’t yet figured out how to tweet or have a dusty corporate Facebook page with no updates and no likes there is no doubt that now is the time to act .  Search is becoming increasingly social and with Google rolling out algorithm updates more quickly than you can reel off the list of black and white animals it tends to favour; it makes sense that everyone should be looking to drive traffic to their site socially and not just relying on organic search.

So where do you begin building your brand socially?

Firstly you need to approach social networking in the same way that you approach the design and wording of your website or marketing materials – by identifying your USP – what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd?  What do you do that your competitors don’t?  What can you deliver that no one else can or what can you deliver that is better than everyone else?  Identifying what it is that makes your brand unique will stand you in good stead as you start your social journey.

Social channels cannot simply be used to sell – in fact if you think that tweeting or pinning up images in Pinterest is going to be all about peddling your own wares you need to take a step back.  Creating a presence socially is about giving something back to the community, to your potential customers; it is about creating something of interest which may then lead to increased brand awareness and a rise in sales.

In order to generate more interest in what your business stands for and the products/services you provide you will need to build up a following of like-minded people who will care about your ethos and the services you offer.  Quantity isn’t everything so don’t be tempted to follow any old profile simply to get the follow back, targeting the right kind of audience will be more important as these are the people that are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.  If your business is local, look for people in your local area and other businesses that may have need of your services or that you may be able to collaborate with rather than approaching those people in another region or country who will in all honesty not be able to access what you are offering.

A great way to build up a following is to join groups or even create your own.  This can work particularly well to identify yourself or your business as a leading authority within your industry

You also need to get a better understanding of your customer demographic and know who your competitors are.  There is nothing wrong with trying to emulate the competition so long as you ensure that you are honest about why you need social marketing – to improve brand awareness, to increase traffic, to increase communication with customers or to reach new audiences – and that you put your own spin on everything and make it unique to your business, your brand and your ethos.

Also don’t act in isolation.  If you want people to like and follow your business you need to ensure that you are socially active and follow/like other people.  Join relevant groups and start making a name for yourself and share others’ content if you feel it would be of interest to your own readers.

Of course there are social media and online marketing companies out there who will be more than happy to assist you with your social marketing, but even at the highest price tag and with the best intentions they will never know your business as well as you do.  Any social media marketing that you pay for needs to be supplemented with your own responses, status updates, comments and community building because at the end of the day it is your reputation that is being built.

If you feel you do need help to boost your presence socially please do get in touch :)

Posted by Frances Berry