When beginning with Social Media Marketing, the natural approach of most businesses is to jump in with both feet.

They see what everyone else is doing and just copy that or even worse they register on a platform that their friend uses and start messaging away. Often the result of this is they don’t get much response or get sucked in to the vortex of un-guided messaging and spend an enormous amount of time with nothing to show for it. Either way, they soon drop Social Media and tell everyone that it just doesn’t work!

Social Media is ‘Word of Mouth on Steroids’, unfortunately, there a still a lot of businesses who are not convinced who are missing out on leveraging this fantastic tool.

There are a now a full range of Social Media Networks, the leading ones being Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ Instagram, YouTube, etc. But for the majority of businesses they only need to be using the most appropriate ones.

However once you have chosen the right networks, like everything else a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. As I mentioned in a recent blog post regarding The Real Facts About Facebook Posts and Facebook Adverting businesses can waste a lot of money if they don’t understand what they are doing. But with careful planning and some training Social Media can be a vital and very effective marketing tool.

Social Media Benefits
Using Social Media has some benefits:
– Highly targeted marketing tool enabling you to specifically target your potential customers.
– Enables two way conversation.
– Key tool to enable email capture and begin permission marketing with contacts
– Creates a pipeline to build an email list.
– Free or very low cost advertising
– Improves your website and social authority ranking on search engine searches thus improving your website’s SEO.
– To gain all of these benefits a plan is essential. Otherwise, Social Media can be a time hungry activity that will result in minimal or zero results.

Social Media Planning
The starting point as with all marketing is to understand who your customer is, what their problems are, how you can solve them, what benefits they would gain by using you and lastly where do your customers congregate. All have a profile section which enables you to put a pen picture of your business and link to your website in view.

So having got a clear picture of your target customer you need to decide which Social Media platform is right for your business. You don’t have unlimited time, so you need to register with and use the most appropriate Social Media sites.

You should also develop a Social Media Strategy, which is integrated into your marketing plan. Part of this should be a content calendar scheduling the objectives, marketing messages, outcomes and methods utilised to measure stats.

One critical point to bear in mind is that your posts, tweets or updates should not be an annoying stream of sales messages. If you went to a networking meeting and stood in the middle of the room shouting out how great your business is and making requests to buy your products or services. Unfortunately, uninformed businesses do just this on all of the social media platforms on a daily basis.

You should follow the 70/20/10 rule:

– 70% is sharing other peoples articles or messages.
– 20% your articles, tips, guides, etc.
– 10% Sales messages about your products or services with a call to action.

In addition to these messages, you should be answering questions or commenting on other people’s tweets, updates, messages, and posts.

There are some free ‘content curation tools’ that enable you to follow and automatically collect articles then send them out to followers via your various Social Media accounts.

There are also some free Social Media Management tools such as HootSuite. These enable you to manage several social media accounts at the same time and schedule messages to be sent out at the best time of day, even months in advance. So Social Media activities can be happening even while you are away!

So which Social Media sites should you be on, well that differs, dependant on what business you are running and who your customers are?

The need to measure the effectiveness of your social media activity can’t be stressed enough most platforms have an analytics feature (measuring tool) that will track the number of views and time of day, how many times the messages have been shared etc. All of this should be assessed regularly.