"Social media" refers to the growing group of websites that allow users to connect with other people to share information and build online relationships. The most popular examples are Facebook and Twitter.
Social media marketing is the use of social media to promote your product or brand. To succeed with social media marketing, one must establish an effective web presence that is dynamic and interactive. Use social media to:
- Make information about you and your company readily available
- Engage existing customers
- Attract new customers
Think of your web presence as a house in the midst of a block party. Inside your house are your friends and family - your existing customers. You want them to have a great time - you want them to feel welcome, special, and happy. But you want your party to be the biggest and best on the block! People walking by (casual Internet visitors) need to see how much fun your guests are having, and want to come inside. Social media can help your guests have more fun, and attract passers-by to join the party.
Here are the essential elements of an effective web presence:
- Your Website: The center of everything
- Your Blog: The voice of your company - the official source of news about yourself and your company, and the site of important announcements.
- Your Facebook Page: The Facebook Headquarters of your business. Note: If you haven’t already, start by creating a Facebook Profile, then you can create a Page.
- Your Twitter Account: A casual medium for interacting in candid fashion with your clients, customers, friends, colleagues - anybody!
The content you share through Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and your website should address the following questions:
- Who are you? Provide ample contact information for your business, as well as personal bios, as appropriate. This is especially important on your website, the final destination for web visitors. Visitors should be able to find your phone number or email address within 10 seconds.
- What do you do? Casual passers-by should discover quickly exactly what you do. Be excited, enthusiastic, confident, and show that you love what you do. Explain why you got into the business and what keeps you in it.
- What’s happening now? Share the latest news, perhaps through your blog, and highlight this on your homepage. What are you working on? What have you just finished? Show off your hottest new listings, promote local events, etc. New things should immediately be blogged, tweeted, and shared on Facebook.
- Give me something I want! People go to the web for news, services, inspiration, advice, fun, and to connect with others. Give them what they want! Provide one, some, or all of the above.
- Be Real! State your intentions, or nothing at all. People can smell sales pitches from way out, and are immediately turned off. If you’re not legitimately interested in people, don’t pretend to be.
- Be Fresh! Your web presence should be full of clean, new content. Clean, new content. Not a bunch of ads, or a post from a blog that hasn’t been updated in a year. Like ingredients in a great meal, your content should be FRESH.
- How to keep your content fresh? Get in the habit of updating. It’s as simple as that. Set aside time in your day or choose a day in the week to write a post. FINISH the post and post it! Even if your site has 0 traffic, this is an important practice. One day, thousands of people will land on your site every day - imagine this is already happening, and you need to continue to provide fresh content to keep your readers interested. You never know who will stumble upon your site, so make sure that when they do, they get the impression that your site is alive and well, not dead and defunct.
- One way to provide fresh content? Record everything interesting that you come across throughout your day - there are tons of great services to help you do this (like evernote or instapaper). Share something interesting every day - post it to your Facebook page, and share it on Twitter.
- Be Bold! It’s ok to write about something that’s already been written about by hundreds of bloggers. Your take will be special as long as you add your personal opinion. Let your voice be heard! That said, try to write about things that you’re interested in - this will make it more fun to write and to read.
- Be Concentrated! Choose a service and stick with it. You don’t need 5 different blogs, a posterous account, 3 websites, etc. This will disperse and dilute your web presence. Less is more: one website, one blog, an account with Twitter and a Facebook profile. Use a tool until it limits you, then find one that doesn’t.
- Reach Out! A social media presence doesn’t happen automatically - you must actively pursue connections with people and organizations that you care about. Become a follower of people on Twitter, “like” company Pages on Facebook, and give authors props on their insightful blog posts. It’s all a big circle - send out enough love, and some will surely come back your way.
- Be Yourself! While it’s great to spread the love and promote others, ultimately you should focus on sharing your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. There are plenty of sources of news and popular items on the web - if somebody takes an interest in you, it’s because they’re legitimately interested in you, not the things you pass along from other sources. So let your voice be heard!
Social media is growing at an explosive rate. If you’re committed to using the internet in your business, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Jump on in, find your friends, and connect to the people, causes, and businesses that you care about. There’s really nothing to it but to do it! Below are some resources to help you get started.
Resources for Facebook
- Create a Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Pages help: http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=904
vFlyer Facebook Application: http://www.vflyerwiki.com/wiki/doku.php?id=facebook_application
Resources for your Blog
Free blog platforms:
Resources for Twitter
Following Hasthtags (#): http://hashtags.org/
Resources for Reading and Remembering