Boosting Your Business with Social Media: Five Tips to Get Started

Did you know that one of every five minutes spent on the Internet is spent social networking? Or that in the United States 98 percent of people who are online use social networks each month, making it the number one online activity?

Your customers’ time and attention are being consumed by social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Use them wisely, and they can give your marketing strategy a powerful boost.

So what does it take to create or improve your business’s social media strategy?

First, determine your business goals. Do you want to grow your e-mail list, sign up new customers, increase brand awareness in your industry, or all of the above? Whatever you decide, some research, planning, regular execution, and tracking are important ingredients that will go a long way in helping you succeed with social media.

Here are five simple tips to get you started or to hone your already up-and-running strategy.

Observe first

Who are your customers, and what do they care about? Do some up-front research on the top LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, Twitter influencers, websites, and blogs where your customers spend their time. Make a list of 10 to 15 topics, questions, and keywords you find in these places, and take note of the most active community members and commit to engaging with them in future.

Create “pass-along value”

When you’re ready to start posting to social platforms, always ask, What’s in it for my audience?

Pass-along value happens when content is so useful—or funny or unique—that it prompts people to pass it on to their network. The sharers become influencers among their peers, and the content spreads.

Think quality and quantity

Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.

There is (almost) nothing more difficult than recruiting your first 100 Facebook fans, although Facebook ads can be a great help early on. As word spreads, though, you won’t believe how much easier it becomes after you hit 500, 1,000, or 2,000 fans or group members. Know your ideal customers, but make an effort to encourage everyone to join your community. Be inclusive, and you’ll grow your fan base and network in no time.

One more tip: Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. These act just like inbound links to your web page and enhance your search visibility dramatically.

Make your message consistent—but each platform unique

How different should your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn presences be? Hint: The Barney’s warehouse sale may have different stock and price points than the Barney’s retail store, but customers expect brand consistency. All your platforms must make sense as “shopfronts” for your business, or your brand will become confusing and seem untrustworthy.

How do you make each platform unique?

Think about the different needs your customers will have on each platform. On LinkedIn, they might seek professional information, advice, or topical discussion. On Facebook, they might want engaging multimedia, interesting news bites, or information they can share with their friends. If you offer something different on each platform, your customers won’t feel they are being spammed.

Pump up your Facebook business page

Maximize your Facebook picture. You have a lot of real estate (as much as 180 x 520 pixels), so use it to entice people.

Always include a Welcome Page that encourages people to “like” your page and become a part of your community.

Create an incentive to capture e-mail addresses up front. Free e-books and other giveaways work well.

Set up a regular time to review your Facebook insights data, either alone or with an analytics expert, to track how you’re doing so you can adjust your strategy.

Start with these strategies, and before you know it, you will develop stronger, longer-lasting customer relationships that will serve you for years to come. DW

Tania Yuki (@taniayuki) is a social media specialist who helps businesses use social marketing. She is also the founder of Wimlink (www.facebook.com/wimlink).

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