Posted by & filed under Social Media.

While it seems the proliferation of social media in our day-to-day lives is growing exponentially, I continue to be amazed at the number of companies that have not embraced this medium as part of their integral marketing program. Sure, it can be a little scary and a bit overwhelming, especially to small businesses without a lot of personnel dedicated to starting and maintaining it. I’ve also run across many companies that haven’t posted on their Facebook page in months and even years and can easily justify in their own mind why they don’t need to have a dedicated social media effort. The fact is social media is an integral part of the human experience. Automakers are experimenting with technology that lets us stay connected when we’re in our cars, eldercare is integrating social media with wellness programs and word of mouth ambassadors are getting paid to sway consumers with trusted opinions on social networks. So if you haven’t jumped into the social media pool or feel like you can’t keep your head above water in maintaining your online presence, there are five simple steps you can take to not only endure but flourish in your endeavor.

1. Stop making excuses and do your homework. If you have no online presence currently on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social sites, start doing some research. My guess is you probably use Google so consider it your number one tool to find your industry peers and competitors online. Make a list of the things you like or don’t like about what they are communicating about their brand(s). Google business articles about starting an online presence and start following industry experts for valuable advice. If you have a stagnant online presence, take inventory of where you are and where you need to be and ask your customers with what social networks they are currently involved.

2. Adjust your current workday and set a realistic “go” time. Simply having a Facebook or Twitter account isn’t going to do your brand justice. It is going to require commitment and determination to successfully promote your brand digitally. Let’s say you have traditionally allocated two hours every Friday afternoon to make new business calls and cold calls – take one of those hours and spend it building your digital reach. Set a realistic launch or re-launch date and stick with it, no matter what.

3. Hire a social media consultant. The biggest excuse I hear is “I don’t want to have to pay someone outside just for social media”. Think of your social media initiative as another salesperson in your company. You pay those people on salary or commission, and they can only reach so many potential customers in a day. The reach you can generate with an expertly written blog article or online post about a promotion or new product far exceeds what a sales rep can do in an 8-hour day. A social media consultant can work with you to develop your program, advise you on how to find that person or group of people to direct and maintain your effort and even function as your online brand manager. Whether you hire the consultant for a one-time strategy session or on a monthly management fee, your investment should be considered a crucial part of your marketing plan.

4. Establish metrics for your social media initiative. Once you have made the decision to start or grow your online presence, you have to determine what you want out of the effort. Do you want to drive more people to your website, get more traffic to your brick-and-mortar, establish new customer channels or promote your products more visually? Measurement tactics should include monitoring your website analytics to watch referrals from your social media vehicles and tying hard numbers to online promotions. If you think about watching the potential reach of a customer sharing your tweet or posting a sale on their page, the numbers might make you get more excited!

5. Get smart on social media. Most people either starting out or in a stagnant mode don’t realize how many resources are available to them to become smarter about growing their online presence. Google has a plethora of good articles on social media tips and marketing ideas for business. Join online groups that make sense for your industry and marketing groups that are constantly pushing out new information. Attend social media events in your community – not only will you learn something, you’ll have the ability to network or at least commiserate with folks that are in your same stage of social media development. Join online webinars or search YouTube for videos at your desk or after business. Even if you only take a few minutes a day to get smarter, it will pay off and keep you motivated to be the industry standout in your digital marketplace.

With some preparation and commitment, you can have a successful social media initiative. You really can’t afford not to have a digital presence – your customers are online creating networks and communities you can access, influence and convert to new customers. All you have to do is dive in.

Comments are closed.