How can small companies leverage the power of social media??

All Social Media strategy requires creativity, perseverance and hard work. Don’t mirror someone else’s technique, create your own. The best strategy for your company is the one that works.

Be prepared for a period of sustained effort. Social Media is simple, but it isn’t easy.

ROI (Return on Investment) is difficult to quantify, but still necessary. Make sure you know what you are trying to accomplish, and then identify and consistently use appropriate tools to gauge your success.

Remember that technology changes at light speed. It is a requirement of successful Social Media management to stay on top of emerging tools and techniques on a daily basis.

As your Social Media activity gains traction, be prepared for that success. Recognize that your Social Media resources will become scarce as your internal and external audiences grow in demand. Make sure you have manpower and resource backup as they become necessary.

One must feel comfortable with embracing social media.

If you aren’t there is no point in being there just because everyone is.

Then you need to see how can you take advantage of social media for your and to your client’s benefit. Depending on what business you are in you will need to do some research and see what are the best practices and what are the faux-pas and where you can improve what your competition is doing.

Some things to take in consideration:

  • Make social a media a part of your overall marketing strategy and not the center of your marketing strategy.
  • Social media is time intensive, specially when you start, and you should take this into account.You should look at it as an investment and allocate resources to it.
  • Be creative and understand the medium: On twitter, for example, don’t just push your product but put a face on the account; interact; engage; help for free: yes for free. It will come back.
  • Add value to your social media presence by making exclusive offers only available on Twitter or Facebook.
It is important to have an in place content strategy prior to engaging in social media.Having quality content can be used to convey to the broader market which in turn helps to add credibility to your social media marketing.

Make sure the website works well (contact page, navigation, menus) and has SEO (Search engine Optimization) elements (content cross linked, unique title/descriptions, privacy page, backlinks) in place.

Blogging is still the best social media marketing methodology know to woman or man. It forces your company to define your brand, engage with your audience, enables you to communicate directly to your customers, provides a high quality source for content and much more. Don’t get on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr or LinkedIn unless you have a blog.

Cross promote your content across the social web. Your Blog, Twitter or YouTube channel can be easily shared across the social web. Re-purpose your content 3–5 times to leverage marketing.

Think local and go global when/where you can with social media marketing. If your brand focuses on a local market research where your customers are congregating in a digital sense and reach out with messaging that provides information, underscores your brand and has a sense of urgency.

Contrary to popular opinion, social media marketing is not free, even when it appears to be. So, pick your platforms and communities carefully, albeit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and/or second tier. There are inherent labor costs with building a brand on these high growth platforms.

Social media is inherently transparent. Well worth your time to do some competitive analysis in your local market and a distant market. This will give you perspective for what others are doing and when/where traction (read: leads, revenue, building community and relevance) can be generated.

Many of us remember the .com days and how brands were built (won’t touch on sock puppets) correctly; one of the maxims that has stood the test of time is”give em a free lunch to come back for dinner.” Meaning, offer your customer something of value to get their interest and so they will connect with your brand, giving you permission to market to them moving forward.

Win the first impression battle

What are you doing to make their first 30 seconds on your platform useful and worth their attention? If you can’t answer this question, you need to start here. First impressions are everything in terms of social media

Be human

Humanize your brand. Realize that your brand is everything about you from what you tweet to how you respond to comments on Facebook. Don’t hide your employees. Let them shine and be a living, breathing representation of your brand. Remember that all companies, even small ones with only a few management personnel, have a “culture” that will be resistant to change. Don’t assume buy-in by your key people. Educate and motivate them first, they should be your first Social Media task.

Related post: 16 Extraordinary Lessons of Social Media Design

Be patient yet persistent

You aren’t going to capture your community overnight or on the first day you launch any social media site. Building and launching an integrated online community takes time. Give yourself and your team the time to do it right. Have patience and persistence. Slow down and do it right and at the end of the game you’ll be the winner, guaranteed.

Connect emotionally

Make them feel. If you want to grab my attention on G+, make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me feel something, anything. When I have a super busy day and I am replying to posts I have no choice due to the amount of them and time constraints but to choose where and when I am going to respond. It is an easy choice for me. I respond to the people who grab my attention. The people who are nice, who make me feel good. The people who are genuine. The people who make me laugh, playing the emotional card.

Focus on relationships

The life of social media is people. People like you and me. People who laugh, cry, get mad, go crazy, get married, divorced, have kids, lose family members, win jobs, lose jobs, get promotions, win new clients, get new opportunities, have fun, play hard and work hard. Offer value to the people in your community with a goal of building real relationships. Offer value and knowledge.

Related post: Create Small Business Social Commerce to Augment Marketing

Inspire them

Inspire your communities to connect with you with a foundational goal of achieving their objectives. Inspire … Connect …Achieve. To do this you must know their objectives and goals. You must know them. When you know your audience then you can know how you can help them be better. How can you help them learn? How can you help them go faster? Work smarter? Be smarter? Share more valuable information with their colleagues, clients, partners and friends? Figure these answers out and use them to help.

Teach them

What knowledge can you share with them that will make them smarter? How can your knowledge drive real efficiency in their life or business? Share your best stuff, not just the same old, same old you wrote two years ago that is over used and over sold, by everyone everywhere.

Make it easy

People want to connect. They don’t want to be spammed at every opportunity. Give them an opportunity to engage with you, your brand, and your team. Be available. Open up your comment stream on your blog. Listen and be relevant and responsive.

Listen

The most important thing one can do to create a positive engagement is to listen carefully. Listen with a goal to understand. Bottom line, listen more than you talk. You’ll be amazed how much one can learn about the audience if we just shut up and listen.

Social Listening

An alternative answer is that there are plenty of people and businesses on social media asking about recommendations of all sorts of products, services, tools, solutions to their problems etc and social listening could certainly be of help.

To support this with statistics, over 10 thousand people on Twitter ask “can anyone recommend…?” on a monthly basis! That’s a pretty big number of opportunities to leverage social media.

To find those opportunities one must use social listening tools like Brand24, for instance. After setting up a monitoring project, the tools picks up the mentions of the chosen keywords that appeared across different social media.

Let’s say you’re running a textile shop in Calcutta. By monitoring phrases such as “can anyone recommend”, “Textile shop” “Calcutta”, you’ll be able to find all the people who asked such question on social media. This is the type of questions textile shops, for instance, should engage.

This blog post elaborates on how social listening will grow your sales in a more detailed way.

What’s great about conversations like that is that these people are already in the position to make a purchase decision, so once you appear in the right place, at the right time, what you should do is genuinely engage and help those people. Once they find value in whatever you provide them with, they are likely to ultimately become your customers.

Ultimately, what works for your company might not work for someone else. All of these are merely guidelines for a successful use of social media for small companies

The list of guidelines goes on….