The first two questions on every business owners mind about Social Media Marketing is or should be what to do and how to do it. These should be immediately followed by who will control my Social Media Presence. That being said here are a couple of pointers and things to ponder to get you thinking and going in the right direction.
First things first the powers that be must sit down and put together a Social Media strategy. You must decide What networks best serve your purpose on the web and how many (or few) networks you want to be on. The obviousness of needing to have Facebook and Twitter accounts does not need to be stated, but your business needs to also look into some of the smaller niche networks that are more industry specific. These will drive you to more of an interest group than a social group and even though there are a quarter of the users it could end up driving as much if not more business to you than the major players. Also you must choose wisely while a network like Foursquare would be great for a Bar or Restaurant it probably won’t be so effective for say a gynecologist.
The next step to developing you Social Marketing strategy is going to be deciding How to approach your content and interaction.
As far as content goes the old adage about having to choose between quality and quantity needs to be thrown directly out the window. Within Social Media Marketing you need both. In regards to the quantity I am not referring to long drawn out post or blogs especially since sites like Twitter only give you 140 characters to get you message out. No I am talking about frequency; as it stands the largest percentage of users surveyed say they only log on to Social Media sites for about an hour a week. So making sure you have quality content out there constantly to make sure you reaching everyone in your community is vital. This leads me into my next point which is the quality of your posts. As perspective buyers the Social Media community as a whole wants to see posts that hold value to them. Tips on how to do things, promotions your company is running(77% of users look for incentives and coupons on Social Media Sites), even new things your company is working on or developing. When posting things that might be of a sensitive nature or considered information only industry insiders would have don’t second guess or worry that one of your competitors might see. If it’s that great of an idea or so effective you can be fairly certain that someone has already thought of it or told a friend, and with the amount of information being posted on a daily basis it has already been shared with the world via the web.
The even trickier and more company specific aspect of the how is going to be interaction. You have to decide how you as a business and it’s Owner/Board/CEO feel comfortable interacting with your audience and to what level of intimacy you are willing to have. For example having your full date of birth is never a good idea especially with the amount of identity theft out there. At the same time you can’t be afraid to let them know personal things about you and your employees if the CEO or their family member does charitable work to raise money for juvenile diabetes that’s something you should let people know and post information on the preparation and progress of that individual. Also make sure interactions rarely if ever delve into the realm of hostility and bickering. If someone posts negative comments about your comments about your business or services it is important to address them, but do so in a manner that shows you are concerned with their complaint and wish to address any issues the person posting may have. Never get into arguments defending your product or services it often makes you seem like you are overly defensive or if a big enough company your seen as a bully. Also make it clear in your Social Media policy that employees are not to engage in arguments defending the company either. While they may be well intended this almost never turns out well.
A major decision you will have to make is Who will be in charge of Social Media Marketing for your company. With new technology emerging daily and new Marketing tactics by the hour it’s simply not an option to take an existing employee have them throw on a second hat and hope to have a truly successful campaign. You need to have a dedicated person or persons, depending on the scale of your Social Media Marketing strategy, to run this project. They have to know how to develop a Social Media policy for you and your employees, decide which networks are best suited to your business, and what content should be posted on which network. At first you may want to look into hiring an outside consultant or even an agency who specializes in Social Media Marketing. As a Social Media professional who works within the Social Media Marketing world I can honestly say I still learn new things each and every day. So for someone who has not made Social Media Marketing their sole focus they will surely fall behind the curve of what is necessary and pertinent. Which in turn will make your campaign, while well intended and directed towards the right medium, fall short of what you are trying to achieve. So before jumping in head first take a step back look everything over and make sure at the end of the day you measure twice and cut once.