That social media marketing is important for reaching out to people is an accepted fact today. It is the networking and reference generating culture of this millennium. As the time goes by it will become even more important as the newer generations are growing up with the social media culture and look for anything and everything via the social media. Businesses are also realizing its importance and are eagerly incorporating social media as part of their strategic marketing plans.
For most of the people, social media marketing is an overwhelming notion. Many understand it as a way to increase their professional or personal network (LinkedIn and Facebook) or just be connected for keeping abreast with the latest happening around the world in every sphere of life (Twitter). Nothing beyond that. They fail to understand how they can effectively utilise the social media as a marketing tool for increasing their businesses.
If you want to integrate social media tools with other marketing strategies, then it is advisable to first understand the social media tools and chalk out a clear plan of action that best suits your business type.
1. Classify Social Media Marketing Tools
Based on the objectives with which they were built, social media tools can be broadly classified into following categories:
Purpose: Increase personal and professional network; seek business prospects; build business communities and engage like-minded people
Examples: LinkedIn, Facebook
Category: Content Sharing
Purpose: Sharing Opinions and knowledge
Examples: SlideShare, YouTube, Scribd
Purpose: Seeking most popular information/knowledge regarding any topic of interest
Examples: Delicious, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon
2. Develop A Multi-pronged Strategy
Once you understand the type of visibility that a social media tool provides, you can chalk out a strategy for your business. Ideally it makes sense to develop a multi-pronged customized messaging approach to reach out to a wide expanse of prospects. For example if your business is about making mobile apps for the software developers then in you need to build a Facebook page which encourages visitors (techies) to engage in quizzes or any other contest which involves submitting codes. You could offer some handsome rewards for the winners.
Another example is, suppose you run cuisine classes. For this too, you can develop a Facebook page with an impressive landing page which should invite people to engage in recipe games and be rewarded with some exclusive pack of organic food ingredients or maybe some world famous recipe book.
Both the above type of small businesses should simultaneously try to publish knowledge based articles in Scribd or SlideShare and submit in Digg or Reddit too. There should be a Twitter account which supports these efforts. Through Twitter you can share the latest happenings in these two worlds. You should also upload a video on YouTube explaining some lines of codes or some technical concepts or demonstrate a recipe cooking (in case of the second business case) which the viewers can see and appreciate.
3. Build a blog
Another way to engage your prospects is to engage them through maintaining your own official blog with all the sharing widgets. You could publish business specific content or you could even publish generic content with a trace of humour. Remember humour sells. An engaging blog will spread word of mouth. Sharing widgets will allow the visitors to share the posts within their networks at different social media websites.
4. Be Creative
Creativity is the king. Your social media marketing results will depend largely on how creatively you are able to engage the customers. Creative engagement will decide how big a community will form. Naturally, bigger the community, the better it is as it will help spread the word-of-mouth faster.
5. Get Listed In Local Search Engines
Make sure that, as a part of your social media strategy, you do not ignore the traditional way of getting listed in local business searches. Integrate social media marketing strategy with the rest of the traditional marketing plans. Showing up in the local business searches, such as Google Maps and JustDial, creates a sense of authenticity to the existence of a business. This is especially true for the SMEs who have to build a trust factor.
What is your take? How else do you think we can use social media as an effective marketing tool? We would like to hear your thoughts.
|About Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi|