The answer is YES. Social media marketing for business is worth every minute you can devote, if you know how to invest your time and energy. As more and more brick and mortar businesses disappear, consumers are seeking new ways to connect with familiar brands. Main Street has moved to the mainframe, and social media has become the new town square. If you have only been using social media as a broadcast platform for free advertising or back linking, you are missing the point entirely. Social media is an interface for conversation. People don’t log on to social media sites to look for spam. If you are trying to build a larger following, you should post relevant content that will enrich the conversation and inspire others to respond.
Spend your time and energy engaging the people who are likely to buy your products or services. You know them. You interact with them every day. Take the time to write down a clear detailed description of your target audience, and keep this profile close. Use it to determine where they are most likely going to look for you. If you are a contractor who aims to be a vendor for another business, you may have more success on a site like www.odesk.com instead of www.Facebook.com. But, there is no cookie cutter plan. You cannot just create a Facebook page and expect to find 1,000 people who want to talk to you. Odesk.com might not be the right place either. Take time to explore the internet and look for people or businesses that fit your target. Think like a customer who is looking for your product or service. Start with a search engine and ask questions that your customers ask. Follow the links to find the answers and meet other people who have the same questions. Then join the networks and boards that they have joined.
Once you have joined a site, take time to research that site. Every social media site is different. For example: LinkedIn is designed for professional networking. Therefore, the atmosphere of the site is very different from a site like Google Plus. Learn what is considered socially acceptable behavior before you post anything.
Also, be sure to complete all of the steps to build your profile. Some sites have more steps and ask for more information than others. For example: Facebook requires a cover picture in addition to a profile picture. Many people don’t give it much thought, but the cover picture is the first thing that visitors will see when they click on a page. Statistics say that a page has less than five seconds to grab attention. A professional cover picture will help keep visitors interested.
When your profile is complete, take time to learn about the features of the site. Some networks allow you to post pictures, videos, polls, and blogs. Other sites, like twitter, limit your interactions to 140 characters. The site features will become the tools that you use to create your message. You must master these tools in order to give your message the best chance for impact.
When you start posting, you should keep posting. One of the biggest mistakes that people make with social media is to create a profile and let it wither on the vine. It’s like going on a bad date where the conversation dies before the appetizer arrives. You just sit there and stare at each other, desperate to find something to say. If you want people to be interested in your products or services, you must keep the conversation going. Sometimes, you will be able to respond to posts from your followers, but you must be prepared for the awkward silence. It’s hard to be creative and interesting on spot. Write your posts when you are inspired, and save them for when you need them. If an idea washes over you in the middle of the night, you should get up and ride the wave of inspiration while it lasts.
Create content that will encourage your audience to talk about their needs, and ask questions about your products and services. Look for articles and videos that might start a discussion. You can still post promotions and back links, but don’t post them because you have nothing else to say. This makes you look like the guy on the bad date that starts talking about his new neck tie just so that he can fill the painful silence with some noise. Post often, but be sure to post something worthwhile.
It is a good idea share the same message on multiple sites. But you should be aware that if you have profiles on several social networks, it is likely that you have people that follow you on more than one site. It is true that audiences need to experience a message multiple times before they commit it to memory, but you should change the presentation for each post. One site might include a link to a video where you tour a jobsite before after a job is complete, and another could be a set of before and after photos that encourages people to find ten things that are different. Try to present the information to a different learning style every time you post your message. Learning styles are the way that people approach the task of learning new information. Everyone is different, and a detailed explanation of learning styles is far beyond the scope of this article. Just remember that the same message posted over and over again in the exact same way feels like spam. Change the way your audience experiences the message, and the message will seem fresh every time.
When you promote your social media presence, you should give people a reason to find you. Social media badges are appearing everywhere, and many times, people click on them only to find a page full of spam. People are more likely to click a badge if they have something to say to you. For example, an independent coffee shop could put a yelp badge on the side of their cups with a tag that says “What did you think? Tell us about it on Yelp.” Let people know that you are different. Let them know that you are ready to have a real conversation.
Many people measure their social media success based on the number of page subscribers they see. There are even services out there that will let you buy followers, but all of the pages that they sell are robot pages. A Facebook page with one thousand followers is less impressive if they only have a 0.001% response rate when they post new content. Measure your success by the number of meaningful interactions you have with people that are genuinely interested in your products or services. When people post something on your social media pages, you should always post a reply, even if they didn’t ask a question. Always thank them for posting, answer their question if they asked one, and ask them a question in reply. Keep the conversation going. Check back often to find new replies, and answer them quickly. Post content that will invoke a response and watch your investment grow.
Did we leave anything out? Do you have more questions? Visit our Facebook page and post your reply on our wall.
We would like to know what topics you are interested in reading about in future issues of the Spray Tips™ Newsletter. Post your topic ideas to Twitter with the hash tag #SprayTips