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5 Tips to Help Make Social Media Work for You

Social media can sometimes appear like the emperor without clothes. Lots of people praise its power, and trumpet their success, in driving new business. Many more sit back puzzled at what all the fuss is about.

Much of the problem stems from believing (or hoping) that social media on its own will be the solution for all your sales and marketing efforts. It certainly is part of the solution, but not all as some would have you believe. For instance, for businesses where high trust is critical it won’t close a sale.

But if approached in the right way it can be an effective and efficient part of the marketing mix helping you increase awareness and make your offer more accessible and credible.

1. Fish where the fish are: Be where your customers (or prospective customers) hang out. You wouldn’t attend a networking event full of people you had no interest in doing business with, so why hang out on social media networks where there are no prospective customers. If your customers are on Facebook use that as your primary social media network; if business professionals are what you are after then LinkedIn is for you. And once utilising one of those platforms use their targeting and profiling tools to hone your focus.

2. Connect with a purpose: Social media is a great way to connect in a simple and non obtrusive way. But its real value comes when it is part of how you build your business network. If you sit behind a PC all day madly digitally connecting without a clear target strategy in place then you are pretty much wasting your time. You need to consider who you want to connect with and how you can add value (hint: it’s not all about you!).

3. Integrate online and offline: Online should be a part of an integrated approach. You need to connect online AND offline – that’s right face to face (especially for B2B) and/or via your service delivery. Think through how you build your network on and offline. For most businesses connecting offline is where you will build real trust – online is a support for that process and a great way to keep connected without having to be in their face.

4. Deliver value: Content is the new currency of marketing. And social media is a great platform to distribute and share. But it needs to be content that adds real value. It needs to hit what I call the sweet spot - solve real customer problems, be easily digestible (that is easy to read, understand and apply) and is grounded in your competitive advantage (what makes your brand and offer unique). Content that doesn’t hit this sweet spot – that is provide real value – will just be noise and add to the clutter. It can be a mix of original content by you and sharing great content by others. For more on sweet spot click here.

5. Be consistent and engaging: To expect a single posting on social media to make you a thought leader, or to ‘go viral’ with one click, is unrealistic. You need to have a strategy that fits with what you want to achieve and enable you to consistently connect, engage and share. Given the 1000’s of commercial messages everyone is exposed to every single day you need to creatively present and re-present the content you create. Just as TV ads are repeated to ensure you see them more than once you need to ensure you do the same in social media. But unlike say TV, you can easily keep them fresh by recycling and refreshing. Here’s a few ideas:

• Add an image or a quote
• Re-purpose for the different platforms (an image for Instagram, a quote for Twitter)
• Re-publish at different times of the day to reach different users
• Re-present in different formats – a video for YouTube, a presentation for SlideShare, a blog for your website
• Write intriguing headlines – numbers and lists are really popular

Two final thoughts. There are a number of cheap (or free) tools to help you manage social media, and your connection and publishing approach. Two good ones are Hootsuite or Sprout Social.

And of course be focused. Work out what works for your business and focus on doing that really well. If you take that approach social media can become an important part of driving sales and marketing success.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

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