Having been helping out a friend for his new Startup/SME recently, I advised on a few basic tips on social media (emphasis on basic) to get them thinking. So basic I thought I’d post the tips here, for anyone new to social media marketing. Social media has moved on leaps and bounds since I last wrote on the subject. And the pace of innovation cruises on as more sophisticated platforms emerge (FourSquare, mobile apps) and existing platforms develop (Facebook Open Graph), pushing the boundaries.
Image courtesy of Matt Hamm via Flickr
But with so much going on, where do you start? For most, the start, at this moment in time, exists of Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. Each have their values, purposes and challenges, but where do you focus your social media marketing on when starting out? Here is a random thought process which helped this SME think about the potential for developing their Social Media strategy.
1. Twitter is your most prolific business building tool in Social Media Land
Many think Twitter is a real engagement tool to speak to their customers (ie Dell) yet so many others find the B2B benefits far outweigh the B2C. For this particular company, with their new product, Twitter can be a great way to create market interest and awareness. If you’re in this boat, find Twitter users within your industry and look at who they follow – follow these people. They’ll either be customers of the brands, or business partners/competitors. This is a great way to build awareness. You need to get following them for them to follow you and find out about your new product. Follow all the mainstream companies in this industry.Think about what your most important metrics is however – is it purely the number of followers? Retweets? Click throughs? This should influence how you build up your portfolio of followers.
2. Ensure you keep Twitter updated
So if you’ve taken the Twitter route, then keep it updated! The accounts that fail are those that are
- neglected – you have a thousand followers but forget to post updates
- boring and useless – you post insomnia fodder, wake up!
- updated too frequently – those Twitter accounts that post messages every 5 minutes and clutter my incoming Twitter stream…. yes I unfollowed you!
You will lose followers if you subscribe to any of those.
Twitter is about sharing and conversing; share your own tweets but also retweet interesting, on-topic stuff. Also try and comment on what others are saying.
- relate and respond to your followers; what are they talking about?
- analyse trending topics – can you add anything of interest to get Retweets or more Followers?
- tweet about interesting things you’re doing (like taking your product to a location for free giveaways for example)
- retweet interesting but relevant stuff
- IF you have a blog, automate Tweets each time you write a post – drive interest back to your blog!
4. Design a decent Twitter background
Its not hard; its a great way of introducing your product or brand – break open the 140 word limit with a 1000 words! Inform followers on who you are and what you do, make it look as professional as any page on your website. Its another entry point to your brand, treat it like any other page within your website
5. Post your Tweets onto your website
Image courtesy of Matt Hamm via Flickr
That is, the homepage of your site or within a sidebar of your site, using one of the many Twitter to website plugins available. This will automatically show recent Tweets from your Twitter account. Its a great way of getting more followers and to show that you’re actually talking about cool, relevant stuff that your website visitors will want to subscribe to.
6. Facebook takes time to evolve.
I’d concentrate fully on Twitter first as a startup. Facebook interactions are different to Twitter. Facebook ‘fans’ would be admitting to using or being affiliated with your product or brand. The advantage with Facebook is having messages seen in your fan’s timeline, giving additional exposure to their friends.However Facebook users tend to be more protective of becoming fans of brands than Twitter followers are of following Tweeters. I believe Facebook has a more targetted, B2C benefit than Twitter but this conversely takes more time to nurture to fruition. It also depends on the brand and product and how mainstream Vs niche you are.
7. A Blog (weB log) is a great opportunity to build some 1-2-1 interaction with potential and actual customers
Image courtesy of Kristina B via Flickr
Blogs have been around for years. Much longer than since the term was coined in fact. Its a communication tool and a gateway into your company/brand for your customers, both existing and new. Company blogs range from high level corporate noise through to meaningful insights. This is where the likes of ASOS.com really capture the true essence of what I feel a blog, in the social media marketing sense, really is. A blog creates 2-way dialogue. You’re not talking at your customers, you’re conversing with them. You’re talking their language, about things they’re interested in and you make them feel part of your brand. You make them want to contribute, and make them feel they’re part of your community. New customers see this and warm to this. Existing customers want to spend more money with you because they feel an affinity. This is not just blogging, this is emotional entanglement with your brand.
And because of this, who blogs your brand makes the world of difference… don’t leave it to PR, or Marketing, or Customer Services. Leave it to someone who gets your customers, speaks their language, lives your brand and can communicate with the masses… ASOS have a range of bloggers and this helps keep things fresh and relevant… crucial in an overgrowing Internet of blogs, blogs and more blogs.
Create posts which are interesting but importantly, engage the readers – ask a question or get them thinking. For example end your blog post with an outro question like ‘Do you enjoy shopping online? Would you miss shmoosing the malls if high street retailers went online only? Perhaps both can exist side by side?’
8. Reddit and Digg it!
There are numerous social bookmarking websites out there including Reddit and Digg – if you can create some really interesting blog posts, submit them onto the social bookmarking websites. They’re a great way of extending your small reach. Consider social bookmarking websites as the modern day alternative to the yellow pages. Except you can add articles for free, highly targetted around your article to attract customers/site visitors to your brand or product.
Get people you know to sign up for these sites and get them voted for. The higher the voting, the more chance a) they will get clicked/visited and b) they will pass ‘link equity’ back to the blog meaning you’ll enhance your SEO efforts too! Perhaps that’s best left for another article.
9. Youtube videos as brand messages and traffic drivers
If you have videos of anything to do with your products, get them into your own section in Youtube. Not only will these rank well in search engines but embedding these into your website into a relevant page will boost rankings of that page over time – you’re serving useful content to your site visitors and search engines like that.
10. Keyword optimise your profiles
For example your Twitter profile: insert the typical keywords you’re targetting as well as the brand name. These may help your Twitter profile rank. Same goes for Facebook, YouTube and anything else where your profile is publicly visible. There is the notion of covering brand searches with maximum brand exposure – if you could rank your website number 1 for your brand term, your blog number 2, Twitter account number 3, Youtube page number 4 and perhaps Facebook page number 5, where would that leave competitors? Vying for spots in paid ads of course but it would ensure a clean sweep of the key SEO positions!
Image courtesy of James Cridland via Flickr
Ensure you have your KPIs in place before you start! Yes I jumped in head first into tips on strategy, but nothing creates a better strategy than defining your goals from the start… be clear, be SMART, be cool – whatever, just ensure you know and understand your KPIs for social media else you’ll be walking the social media landscape without a checkpoint for success.
There are a whole range of social media initiatives, tips, strategies etc which I’ve not covered off, but hopefully this simple list provides a few pointers on where you could be taking things if you’re still thinking of starting out, or are new to the Social Media Marketing concept.
What else would you advise a new company starting out in social media? Add your tips below!