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It seems you can’t go to any business conference these days without someone mentioning the importance of social media networks like Facebook, Linked in, You Tube and of course twitter.  I’m sure you’ve also heard all of the buzz surrounding the benefits of blogging and if you haven’t already started, I’d hazzard a guess that you’re feeling just a little bit guilty?

There is no doubt about it – Social Media has revolutionised the world of Internet Marketing and as entrapreneurs can’t be ignored.  Lets face it, we all know it is here to stay so we need to understand it and figure out how to leverage it as part of their online marketing strategies, without it becoming one huge time suck!!

One of the questions we are often asked by our clients is:

“Am I wasting my time with  Social Media?”

Most of our clients have been running search engine marketing campaigns for years and understand the importance of ranking well on the search engines for targeted Keywords – They have seen the results and reaped the benefit  of see a high ROI.  It is not that hard  to persuade clients to invest marketing budgets in an initiative if they can easily see the return on that investment.  The “icing on the cake” has always been the measurability of this type of marketing. With Social Media, ROI is much harder to quamtify/

So what exactly is Social Media?

Social media represents an evolution of referral-based networking.

It’s nothing new; in fact, it started long ago…

What’s diluting the true definition of social media in the online marketplace today is all of the hype surrounding online communities. People communicate with one another in a completely new way through the power of social networks. In essence, the engine is the people.

Benefits of Social Media

Social media has the potential to attract and hold the attention of a vast demographic of people, especially those who have grown numb to traditional media. Below are some other benefits your company will experience by incorporating social media tactics into your overall online Marketing strategy

  • Inexpensive implementations mean affordable Marketing –There’s no need for a large budget to conduct social media marketing although it can be time intensive.
  • It Builds Credibility – User generated endorsements are much more credible than traditional advertising or promotional information found on your website
  • Its viral nature means that users can easily share your messages with their friends with a click of a button
  • Loyalty through Engagement: giving expert advice and having two-way discussions – It is important to stress that the discussion is two-way and it opens the door for conversations with customers and prospects
  • It helps with search engine optimisation: multiple locations of content and credibility that are link-centric
  • Blogs grow and so does your business
  • It creates and engages interest within communities
  • Individuals create the content and determine value; your customers determine your brand value
  • Brand enhancement – Through social media you can build and enhance your online reputation.  You can also protect and defend your reputation if the need arises
  • Increases targeted traffic – A well-planned social media strategy will drive more traffic to your website
  • Engages Customers and prospects –Connect with your customers and respond to their feedback in real-time

How do you adopt Social Media for your Business?

I would say the key to a successful Social Media Strategy is transparency.  Don’t hide the bad stuff and be prepared to accept positive and negative feedback. You’ve really got to put it all out there, because otherwise people are not going to trust you and believe your brand message.

Don’t start a “half cocked” social media campaign!

Its very easy to build a Facebook page, a linkedin account, a twitter account or a blog.  However the difficult thing is deciding what it is you want to say and having a message that is in step with all your other marketing efforts. Social media is not something seperate to traditional marketing but rather an additional channel to leverage traditional makreting collateral.

Perhaps you have started a blog already, only to get distracted after the first few posts? – This is typical as  the frequency of the posts dwindle until they often stop altogether.  This is definitely not the impression you want to leave with your existing or prospective customers.

 The reality is that Social Media marketing is not a “silver bullet“.
The perception that all  you  need to do is launch a Facebook presence and it will become “viral” over night attracting thousands of fans is a falacy that business people looking for real results need to take on board. You need to develop a well thought out plan with achievable objectives and then deliver on executing that plan.