Social media is everywhere – not just online, but extending to mobile, gamine, and generally prevalent in all our user groups. It’s about engaging in conversations within an online community.
Social media isn’t just for marketing as it gives companies an opportunity to understand what a market place is talking about. On the engagement side, it provides opportunities to directly connect with customers on their terms. In the last several years it’s gone from a way for people to share to a way for an entire company to share.

Social Media 101 – Listen

    • Setup streams in Hootsuite or Google Alerts. Listen to what people are saying about your brand or product before every getting involved with them. The more you listen, the more effective you’ll be when you start engaging with them. You’ll know how to talk with them, what they expect, and therefore will be more effective when it comes to your social media marketing.

Social Media 101 – Quality

    • Don’t just focus on getting a ton of  ‘Like’s, Followers, Connections, or friends in your circles. It’s not about the quantity of people that ‘Like’ your Facebook Page, Follow you on Twitter,  connect with you on Linkedin, or have you in their circles – it’s about getting the most out of your audience. Having 5,000 Followers that get a 90% response rate verses 50,000 Followers that only get a 2% response rate isn’t going to get you anything. Spend more time focusing on the few you have and get as much value out of them. They will slowly, but naturally grow. As a result of the slow growth and personal attention you give them, the more valuable they will be for your company and marketing.

Social Media 101 – Community

    • Building a community around your brand is key to making your social media work for you. Setup alerts notifying you of when people mention your brand or products. Respond to them as quickly as you can, and even reward them for saying positive things. If someone says something negative, respond quickly and keep the interaction public. When others see how resolve an issue quickly and with a smile it will strengthen their faith in your company even more.

Social Media 101 – Promotion

    • Don’t forget to promote your social channels. Your twitter account(s), Facebook Page(s), group(s), and more. Link to them from your website, and even mention them from each other. Post a Facebook update to follow you on twitter, or tweet about your Facebook Page. Just as you want to spread the word about your website, spread the word about your different forms of communication to your audience.

Social Media 101 – Represent

    • Finding that balance between company and personal is key. Login as the company when posting from the Facebook Page and Twitter account, but remember to occasionally represent the company as yourself. Some audiences respond to 99.9% company and no personal interaction from employees, and some expect more personal and less company. Test out messaging, who relays the messages, and log what they respond to most. Then focus your efforts on who they respond to most.

Social Media 101 – Content

    • Ask questions, respond to questions, and staying in touch with industry trends are all ways to keep valuable engaging content with your audience. Test images, videos, and different forms of messaging and focus on what the respond to the most.

Social Media 101 – Relationship

    • Continue the relationship you have with your audience. Update your Facebook page at least 3-4 times a week, if not once a day. 2-3 tweets a day is your minimum recommended on Twitter. Don’t forget to Blog regularly. You don’t have to compose a post everyday, but at the very least once a week. Setting up a newsletter for those that want to updates in one email is a good way to stay in touch as well. Then compose a summary of all your important Tweets, Facebook Updates, and Blog posts for the month into one email that goes out to your list keeps that personal relationship going.

Social Media 101 – Growth

    • Don’t just stop at Facebook and Twitter. Setup a Slideshare, or Flickr account. What about a Foursquare checkin just for your product? Spread the network beyond the standard social media channels. Do be aware of your audience as you are building the network. If it doesn’t make sense to them, don’t do it. Setting up a YouTube channel just because someone said you should, but your audience doesn’t care about videos, wouldn’t make sense, and it would be a waste of time.

Social Media 101 – Specials

    • Give your fans special discounts that they would not get elsewhere. Post special discounts on your Facebook Page, or Tweet out offers that they can’t get anywhere else.

Social Media 101 – Reassure

  • Most importantly, recognize your fans and continually thank them for their support. Rewarding them with simple discounts on product offers, or even swag is always well received and strengthens the relationship. Not to mention that they will be so grateful that in many cases they will buzz about the great gift(s) they received which will encourage more fans.

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About the Author: Jennifer Mathews