Social media, is it right for your business? Could it be a free substitute for a traditional (read: expensive) advertising plan? How much time should you spend in the care and feeding of all those profiles? The answers may surprise you.
Twitter grew 3,000 percent in April. Facebook hosted 61.2 million visitors in March. LinkedIn counts 20 million users worldwide.
With a potential audience that big, it’s no wonder savvy marketers are looking to unlock the secrets of social media as another way to get the word out about their businesses. Free access to many social media accounts (and potential clients) just adds to the allure.
Though the platforms will differ based on the type of business, with the accessability of the internet, all small organizations should have a solid Web site, e-mail list, and a contact database before venturing into social media.
Blogs: Write Your Way to Success
If you want to build customer loyalty, start blogging now. It takes minutes to setup, and can be the beginning of branding your business. Blogging takes disseminating information about a company a step beyond formal press releases, ads, marketing brochures and Web sites.
That attachment doesn’t have to equal a huge time commitment, but expect to spend an hour or two to knock out a post. The rewards are can be seen immediately: Blogs that are refreshed regularly get a boost in search engine rankings. In addition, it also helps to establish you as an authority in your field.
Twitter: Tweet Tweet
To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question. The answer? Yes, and ideally as soon as possible! Twitter, with it’s constant communication, and somewhat instant answer sessions, provides an immediate interactivity for your company. If a customer has a question about a product or service, they can simply Tweet your page for the answer. It provides the “hands on” feel to the internet, which appeals to consumers.
YouTube: Be a Star
With a little creativity and relatively low overhead (Flip video cameras can be had for as little as $100) uploading a short clip can be a rapid way to test the market, another way to capitalize on the fast pace of social media is by posting videos on YouTube. Attach your blog, twitter, and website address in your channel info, and watch your traffic bloom as you gain subscribers.
To learn how to create good content, just pick out some viral videos and take note of their methods. The payoff? There are more computers in homes in this day and age, that’s a massive potential audience.
LinkedIn: Business Networking Made Easier
Creating a profile allows an entrepreneur to create an online career history, then to connect with others they’ve worked with. Obtaining a recommendation from a former colleague or existing client may help sway a potential investor or customer. A glowing recommendation is a gold star for any type of business, so why not collect and post them for all to see? It’s easily done on LinkedIn.
Time is money, it’s all about how you manage it. “Previously wasted down time like sitting in taxis for 20 minutes or standing in a bank line for 10 minutes is now spent on my mobile phone, bouncing between Twitter and Facebook. It’s getting easier and easier, and for branding an entrepreneur, I think it’s golden.”
No matter what the platform, Blanchard says the true value of social media is found in the conversation. “You are not necessarily going to get 150 comments per day, but you are engaging a potential customer or client in the way you wouldn’t in an ordinary day.”