2012 has been called the, “Year of Social Media.” Reports have found that 75% of marketers plan to increase their social media spending this year, and social media is expected to have a major impact on television and the presidential election.
With such high expectations for social media, you may feel like if your business is not in the social media loop, you could quickly go out of business. However, before rushing into multiple social media platforms in a panic, consider your business needs. Social media can certainly help your business, but some platforms aren’t the best options for your company, so don’t feel like you must enable all platforms.
Today, a wide variety of social media platforms exist that have various features to cater to specific needs. Come up with an effective social media strategy that will use your money and resources the most efficiently. Don’t believe the hype that getting thousands of Facebook followers, or sending out dozens of Tweets per day is the key to social media success for every business. To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to figure out which social media tools are right for you, and focus specifically on those.
First, identify your audience. You need to define whom it is you want to talk to. If you try to communicate with the most number of consumers possible, you won’t see much brand loyalty in return. If you want to engage with as many consumers as possible efficiently, you need to use different tools in different ways. Every social media platform has its own culture. They have specific tones and engage a specific type of person. This is why it is crucial for you to pick the platforms that best reach your target audience.
Next, define your social media needs. Are you simply trying to increase foot traffic to your stores? Or are you trying to see large sales increases? Maybe your issue is not so much about your customers as it is about your company’s communication techniques. All social media platforms don’t fit all business needs. Figure out what your goal is with social media for you company, and choose the platforms that best fit those needs.
Thirdly, make a plan for how you will use social media. The main goal of all social media platforms is to connect to others, but different platforms do this in different ways. Are you trying to get feedback from your customers? Are you trying to improve your recruiting efforts? Figuring out how you want to use your social media accounts will help narrow down the available platforms to the ones that are most relevant to your needs.
And finally, choose the right tool! After you’ve found your target audience, defined your needs, and decided how you want to use social media, you’re all set to choose the right platforms.
Now do the research necessary to find the right platform for you. If you want your social media strategy to be more private than a public network like Twitter, look into a site like Yammer. Yammer allows you to securely communicate private information.
If your business is trying to build a stronger relationship between its staff and outside contractors, use a platform that can be easily integrated into your business. Think about creating a Wiki or checking out a site like Huddle.
If you’re a local company, wanting to connect with those close to you, platforms like Gowalla or Foursquare give users rewards for check-ins and other discounts that will lead to more foot traffic to your store in a way that a larger platform like Facebook cannot do as successfully.
Clearly social media strategies are complicated and there’s no single, right answer for finding success. Investigate the available platforms and experiment. Find what’s working and what’s not. If you find that a certain platform is not generating results, don’t waste your time with it. Move on a focus on other platforms that are better suited for your business.