The day of obscurity is no longer a challenge to overcome. Social media marketing (SMM) has wiped out the concept of obscurity or the need for feverish marketing strategies to be counted among the who’s who in the business or professional yellow pages.
Social media involvement can help you keep customers, find and develop new ones, and manage your business reputation among other benefits. SMM as a new addition to your traditional marketing method is not at all similar to buying the latest fashion accessory. If that is the approach or mindset you adopt, then it is like marching with a noisy band with your brand new trumpet, only you have no clue how to play it let alone harmonize and make music! You may need to take trumpet lessons to begin with.
The importance of having an SMM strategy
Taking time to put together your social media marketing (SMM) strategy is the only place to begin this new journey. Putting together a winning social media marketing strategy is one of the least expensive but most effective ways to attract business and increase profits. However, do not jump into Tweeting just because everyone is at it. A LinkedIn profile right next to your competitor’s will gain you nothing without a strategy. At this point you deal with the ‘how’ and not with the ‘what’.
A plan of action (how) to reach your goal is your strategy. It is a military terminology and implies life and death. You strategize to win. Without a strategy you get into the arena awaiting life or death, without a clue on what you may expect. With a strategy you work your way to your desired goal.
Getting started: 6 dimensions to consider when you strategize
There are some parameters you need to identify in order to form a good strategy. You can get an idea of these by answering the following questions that deal with each dimension that you need to consider.
- Why do you want to enter this arena (social media)? Three possible reasons can be: a) build awareness b) increase sales c) brand advocacy. Focus on one such aspect. At this point, you need to keep in mind that without awareness you will not attain sales and brand advocates are loyal existing repeat buyers.
- Where do you stand with your potential audience today? a) Nowhere b) aware
c) one-time customers d) repeat customers e) advocates or fans. Focus on two adjacent criteria to begin with. Build your strategy around these two – how will you move from A to B or B to C?
- How will your target audience use social media on the Internet, what are their media interests? This will depend on their age group, interests, and other social behavior patterns. Young people love contests, freebies, and giveaways. Plan how you can work these interests into your reward programs.
- What is your USP (unique selling proposition)? This does not mean product features. This means ‘the one thing that makes your company unique’. Define it and coin a word that speaks volumes, and draws attention. This may be your first step towards creating your brand. Once you settle this, get a trademark or copyright your brand identity. The author of this article once used the USP shown here for one of his sites: “Turn your web site into an online TV.” The idea was to differentiate his business from other web design firms by focusing on the use of video online. What is your firm’s USP?
- How will you nurture your social media participation real-time? Social media networking is all about developing people relationships with the goal of garnering brand advocates ultimately to increase revenue. Your persona plays a vital role here. Give them a human face to interact with.
- What will be your tracking tool(s)? Keeping track of all online conversations about you or your brand is vital. Invest into one of the several tracking tools available online. Tracking web traffic, conversions, and repeat buyers are all part of this. Set up your key metrics to measure your success also. Most these tools are available free of charge.
Benefits you can look forward to
The benefits of social media marketing are many and multidirectional. You can reap several benefits at once if you make a sincere effort to participate and become part of the online community. In fact, newbie small businesses thrive on these popular social networking sites. Keeping your strategies in place you can progress towards enjoying the following benefits.
Here is your chance to tell the world about your business, why you are unique, and what you can offer them. Most of these social networks are absolutely free to join. You can provide a link to your main website, blogs, and other online presence. By linking with others you automatically get an opening into their network of friends and acquaintances. It is best to start your social media presence with LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Reduce costs, increase revenue
In financial terms that business heads like to hear, there are two main benefits that a social media involvement can have on your business. Social media marketing can spur growth by creating a large sales funnel in terms of leads, conversion rates, customer accounts, sales per customer and revenues while reducing your overheads in terms of marketing, advertising, customer churn, and so on.
Develop a consumer dialog
SMM will attract, help you understand, and respond to your target audience or prospective customers. This kind public expression is widely seen in blogs, social networks, wiki articles, and other web 2.0-based media. It is important to encourage a dialog where you actively listen to what your consumers are saying while interacting with them on your latest offers or products.
If your press release or announcements makes the front page of some social networks like StumbleUpon or Digg you can expect hits on your site numbering in the thousands. However, it is important to remember that traffic generated is not same as conversions.
Friends who become fans
Social networking sites like Facebook are an example of how you can leverage your huge list of online friends who will agree to be your advocates or fans promoting your business to their friends and acquaintances. People prefer to buy from a company that others recommend rather than from a faceless entity.
Overcome inefficacy of online ads
A blog that you constantly update with reader friendly useful material that is relevant to your business and links to your main business web site will overcome the burden of ineffective advertisements you pay for in order to gain visibility.
More the number of back-links and links to your website on the web, higher will be your search engine ranking. Therefore, having a presence on most social networking sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and so on can gain you SEO benefits. However, it is important to develop an online following via community involvement.
The business world has only begun to scratch the surface of the power of the Internet and social media in marketing. The stage has been set and now is the time to plan and enter the arena of SMM. With your unique strategy you will be way ahead of your competitors and others who blindly enter because it is on the news and everywhere on the Internet, where the talk is on.
Be ready and you will attract prospects and increase your market base long before halftime, reaping several benefits during this momentous hour in marketing history. To get started, contact Trump University about internet marketing and online branding seminars and webinars. Take action today and join the universe of social media and online promotion.