Given rapid rise in popularity, social media has become prevalent in every part of our life. In the world of business, 80% of companies are using Facebook as a marketing tool. In a survey conducted by Socialmediadd, 39% of business owners said they plan to spend money on Facebook marketing in 2012. Also, Facebook has become #1 publisher of display ads, which is more than Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and AOL combined. Given the growth and huge interest, you would imagine that companies have figured it out. We see that few have and rest are following it without applying serious thought! Let us start by asking few questions - Why should you invest in social media marketing?
- Build brand awareness - you want a large number of customers to know about you.
- Improve customer service - If you want to change perceptions about your company, or improve your customer service, social media will help. e.g. Dell, FedEx
- Promote and Sell - If you want to promote products by leveraging influencers who are likely to broadcast your message, or, encourage existing advocates then this channel is ideal.
How to start formulating a social media marketing plan?It is important to understand the core of social media before you create a plan. We are amazed at number of businesses that miss out on leveraging user behavior that drives social. Social is not Facebook, nor Twitter marketing or, placing of like buttons and buying tons of likes. It’s about simple human psychology that is now being facilitated at a scale by platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Let’s dive into it from a commercial perspective -
- You are a customer too – find out what motivates you to buy someone’s product and inculcate that into your own products. Look for soft features like branding, feel good factor etc. If you don’t do it right, you can always learn from FedEx response to customer .
- People like personalization – We all want to see stuff that matters to us, our friends, our job etc. Facebook and LinkedIn cater to that need by providing features like personalized search results, news feed, invite friends etc. Companies like Pinterest curate content to keep it relevant even when they don’t have lot of data on you. Check out here, how GoodReads have personalized their home page
- People like hanging out with other likeminded people – you may either communicate directly or, be a conversation enabler. Hosting a discussion forum or, enabling users to create their own groups works well. E.g. Do It Yourself Forum, VMWare, Radian6, Quora
- Recognition always works – if you have users who contribute by going above and beyond, recognize them. E.g. SEOMoz Top Users, Top Fans app and other leader boards are powerful tools to motivate customers.
We are pretty sure that Ryan and EGOL are pretty happy about their top position at SEOMoz -
Check out Top Fans for Black Station on Facebook -
- Where to do social media marketing?Start with your website-It’s all about personalization – when a user logs in, curate and present content/products that are relevant to him/her. Check out here how LinkedIn has personalized few features like People you may know, related groups, related jobs, friends you can invite etc
- Encourage users to participate – leave feedback, reviews, latest update, clubs or, comments etc. SEOMoz’s “Do you Like this post?”, “Add a Comment” etc are great ways to encourage users to participate -
- Reward them –This is one of the most effective ways to attract users and keep them engaged on your page. You can always go for Sweepstakes, Coupons, and Gifts. You can also give badges to your active users in order to motivate them.
- Across relevant social networks – chances are that most of your potential customers are still out there and need to be convinced and converted. So, create a presence along relevantsocial networks, discussion boards etc. Here is a list of networks that you should consider creating a presence at -General social networks -Facebook – Check out few Facebook pages like Wildfire, Redbull, Burberry, Harley Davidson, etc
- Twitter – Check out few tweets like Mashable, Brain Solis, SEOMoz ,Wildfire etc
- Pinterest – You can always “pin” your content, photos, events etc on their boards. Check out here – 15 mouth watering summer recipes from Pinterest , Top ten Pinterest pins etc.
- LinkedIn- Its one of the most important professionally oriented online social networks. Therefore information you include helps potential clients in reaching to you.
- Google+ - Check out here the most circled brand pages on Google+ like Android, Mashable, Coldplay, Google etc
- YouTube - Video: Examples are YouTube, Vimeo, or Ustream, Photos- Flickr, Photobucket or Picasa , Audio- Podcast alley or Blog Talk Radio
- Social Geolocation and meeting services: FourSquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Meet-ups & Tweet-ups etc.
- Social News services- Like Digg, Reddit, & other news sites
- Social bookmarking services – Like StumbleUpon, Delicious etc
- Social Music sites- like MeeMix, Maestro.fm, Last.fm, Worldsings, etc
Remember that there are too many of them and you can only manage few well so take you pick based on your vertical. Both onsite and offsite social media marketing are exiting spaces and there are large number of companies playing into it including our, SocialAppsHQ. Follow our blog, register at SocialAppsHQ or, like our Facebook page to stay tuned on our detailed guides on each of the social media marketing segments.
About the Author:
Rajat Garg (CEO, SocialAppsHQ) - Rajat graduated from DCE followed by MS at Stanford University in 2005. As Product Manager at Amazon, he was responsible for conceptualization and launch of aStore, Amazon data feed and internationalization of various products. He has published couple of research papers as well as received a patent for his work that facilitated Amazon’s entry into corporate incentive market. Rajat then worked as General Manager for Real Estate Business unit at a Seattle startup DataSphere, where he grew business several folds. Rajat started SocialAppsHQ in Jan 2011 after realizing the huge potential and impact this can make. His interests include biking and flying Cessnas'