HOW TO MASTER SOCIAL MEDIA

Standfirst: Social media is everywhere, but how can you harness it to your advantage.

How do you raise awareness about your new start-up? Marketing. What’s the biggest problem with marketing? Cost. Over the years businesses have poured billions down the drain in order to market their businesses but recently they’ve had a new option – one which can be extremely effective and incredibly cheap: social media.

Great social media strategies can work wonders. The Skittles Taste the Rainbow campaign, for example, was a great way to boost engagement, raise their profile and get people talking about Skittles.

The premise was simple – to get people to post pictures of themselves with a bag of skittles against a rainbow. It was fun, and easy to get involved with and the result – vast amounts of free advertising.

CHOOSING AN OUTLET

Social media is very useful but difficult to get right. This starts with understanding which outlets to use and how. Each of them work in different ways and require a slightly different approach. For example, here’s how you should be using three of the most popular.

  • Facebook: Almost every business should have a Facebook page except, perhaps, for professional services. If you have it, share it here whether it’s an image, video, blog or special offer. Facebook is a great place to communicate with your audience. Ideally it should be a two-way conversation with people posting messages and material on your Wall.
  • Twitter: Another common tool and a great place to lead the conversation about a product. You can talk with your customers, answer questions, and share information. Businesses often use it to run promotions, short competitions and announce new launches. You should try to Tweet at least a few times every day.

Many businesses are not using Twitter to its full potential. Rather than just an opportunity to promote and broadcast this is a great place to listen. You can track conversations about your sector and even see mentions of your business or product.

They say the most important truths happen when we are out of the room. This allows you to hear it. If there is a problem and someone is loudly complaining about you, this is an opportunity to address their concerns and put something right with your businesses.

  • YouTube: Videos make for great content and some of the best tend to go viral. Take the one entrepreneur, for example, who scored big with his ‘Will it Blend’ series. He promoted his blender by blending expensive items such as iPads.

It achieved the holy grail of social media by going viral and gave him the kind of publicity money could never hope to buy.

You should post videos on here as often as possible, but don’t forget to share them elsewhere – on your website, and other social media platforms.

  • Pinterest: this allows you to post a lot of images and is a popular option for businesses in the creative industries. If you’re producing anything striking or visually interesting share it here.
  • LinkedIn: One of the leading networks for professionals. It’s a great place to go for businesses looking to sell to other businesses. You might also use it to browse professionals as part of your recruitment campaigns.

Many HR agents actively seek out professionals in their industry who have promising CVs and invite them to apply for certain positions.

  • Google Plus: Google is a relatively new entrant into the market and it remains to be seen how well it will perform. It’s a good place to go if you still have time to add another platform and if your social media presence is already highly developed. More than any others, this rewards good quality content rather than advertisements.

There are a host of other platforms each of which have some value such as Digg and Instagram. Do your research, find out where your customers are hanging out online and go to find them.

MEASURING PERFORMANCE

A final point to remember is to avoid the problem of social media fever. Many businesses post huge amounts of content on several social media platforms but never look at how it is performing. They might look at how many followers they have or how many retweets they are getting, but this doesn’t tell you much.

As with anything else in your social media activity you should have an end-goal. The aim will be to build awareness of your business or to actively promote sales. See how many people are talking about you and what they are saying. Measure the visits to your websites and see what they are doing when they get there. Are they making a purchase or are they just logging off?

Social media is great because it’s an open platform and is free for anyone to use but it’s difficult to get right because there is so much noise. How do you make your platform stand out from the crowd? The answer is to build your little communities, engage your customers and produce interesting content that people want to share. The more you do this, the more chance you have of making it a success.