With all the social media options out there, how does a business owner know where to be and where to direct its valuable resources? Not all mediums are created equal, and some work much more effectively than others depending on your product or service.
The top social media channels are:
- YouTube – YouTube videos are a cheap, fun, and effective way to market your business — they offer you a lot of potential bang for your (pretty small) buck, says Michael Miller, author of YouTube For Business. “You can reach tens of millions of people with online videos, and it costs absolutely nothing to put them up.” And all it takes is a video camera and a plan. The New York Times article, “Online Video as a Marketing Tool,” provides examples of how small businesses are using the medium effectively.
- Facebook – According to Julia Campbell, a Principal and Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital media firm in Beverly, MA, in “How and Why to Use Facebook as Your Page“,
Though touted as a primarily B2C (Business to Consumer) marketing tool, there are many ways that Facebook can be leveraged for successful community building B2B (Business to Business). Three advantages to using Facebook as your Page:
Exposure: If you comment on a Page that gets lots of traffic, people will see it and they might click on over to you.
Karma: By leaving thoughtful or thought-provoking comments on others’ Pages, this creates dialogue and community, what social media is really all about.
Relationships: Using Facebook as your Business Page, liking others, commenting, posting etc. helps build your brand and online voice.
- Twitter – In USA Today’s “Ask an Expert: Why Twitter is Great for Small Businesses“, Steve Strauss expounds on the benefits of Twitter:
But even though there are a lot of social media sites to master these days, let me suggest that the payoffs vis-à-vis Twitter in particular, can be significant for the small business. Indeed, there are four main reasons why it’s smart (and not too late) for any small business to still jump on the Twitter bandwagon:
1. It is a great megaphone for branding.
2. It is a great prospecting tool.
3. Twitter is the networking tool of today.
4. It is a great tool for staying connected with your customers.
- LinkedIn – As I recently outlined on my own blog related to the legal industry, but certainly also applicable to all businesses, LinkedIn is the largest professional social network online today with 135 million users and a targeted audience of business professionals. If you are a business professional and you do not have a powerful presence on LinkedIn, you are undoubtedly missing valuable opportunities to connect and grow your business.
- Blogs - Ken Makovsky of Forbes wrote in Why Should Companies Blog?:
There are LOTS of good reasons for one or more members of company leadership to blog:
- Humanizing the company
- Enhancing visibility
- Building credibility and trust
- Establishing industry expertise
- Promoting products and policies
- Addressing important issues
- Generating leads … and business
- Defending the company against its critics
Who blogs? In all likelihood, your customers and competitors. Businesses are now in the minority if they don’t blog. From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with a blog grew from 48% to 65%.
So the data definitely supports the benefits to becoming active, but with so many channels to choose from…how do you determine which are right for you?
Hubspot offers an excellent (and free… don’t walk, run to download), “Online Marketing Opportunity Report”, recommending that you should first start with a strategy. You realistically can’t – and shouldn’t be – everywhere. The report gives specific data on 33 distinct industries and what the social media activity is in each. Your strategy should include the following:
1. Determine where the conversation in happening;
2. Measure detailed activity and the competition;
3. Formulate a strategy for each channel.
It’s well worth the effort to strategically evaluate where your resources should be focused. Most importantly though, once they are determined, to gain ROI you must go beyond just pushing out your company news – you must converse, engage and enrapture. And you must do so regularly.
After all, it’s called social media for a reason… because for it to work it must be “social.” So go for it, and have fun…you have a great opportunity to show your personality and gain attention for what makes your business unique!