The most common questions I get, which is why I’m writing this article, are what is social media? and How can I use it in my marketing strategy? I’ll try to answer both questions in this article.
The first thing you need to understand is that social media and marketing go hand in hand with each other. Successful marketing companies use social media to get their point across to their readers extremely fast, but most importantly in a very effective and efficient manner.
You no longer have to spend millions of dollars with an advertisement campaign that may or may not get the message across to the right people. Thanks to social media, companies can now target very specific people. Sometimes, companies spend as little as $100 to get the audience moving.
Many people think that marketing is like a game of poker, the person that has the Ace card has higher chances of winning. But marketing is not a gamble, companies like Coca Cola, Red Bull, or Starbucks don’t gamble. They know how to play the game; they also know that it’s all about the SIM Card… No, not the cell phone card, but SIM as in Social Influence Marketing – Employing social media and social influencers to achieve the marketing and business needs of an organization. This means that there are people out there that get paid to promote and influence other people. They manage social sites, and they are experts at getting the right point across to the right audiences in the right manner. They know what social accounts to use, when to use them, and how to use them, I’ll explain how all of that works, but first, let me answer the first question.
The easiest way to really define social media is to break it into parts. Social is the ability to talk and interact with people (socialize). Media is a communications instrument, like radio, television, or news paper. So, social media is then an instrument that interacts with you by giving you information but in return, you can communicate back with that source. In 2008 if you were not part of the social media, you were not involved in the conversation, and today, if you are a company that is not part of the social media world, you are on a loosing end of the sticks. When social media was incorporated into the every day life, it gave large companies and corporations the ability to communicate with their customers and clients in a relaxed way. You feel as if you speak with the CEO of a company while he’s sitting in front of his fire place. And that’s awesome right?!?
A lot of people are afraid of social media, they hear the world “social media” and instantly the first things that come into their heads are, facebook page invites, request, and messages from other people begging to get them to like a page. While it is true that many people do that, it is wrong. It’s not the way to run a social profile. Imagine if I went to your home and bugged you all day to hang out with me, you’d do it, but then you’ll stay away from me so i don’t bother you again. Which brings me to the next question:
How can I use social media to help me with my marketing? Well, that all depends on what you are trying to get across. You can find many different examples of this, Coca Cola, Starbucks and Red Bull all have amazing facebook pages. Mashable, Tech Crunch and Barack Obama all have great twitter followers, Ray William Johnson has a large number of youtube followers. And the list goes on and on, Stumble Upon, Digg, and Reddit are also great websites to get your point across if you do it the right way.
You have to make sure that you are using the right medium to get your point to the right people. You’re not going to go to a speaking convention and set up shop outside to try and sell toothpaste right? primarily because you know that no one cares about the toothpaste they care about the speakers, because that’s what they came there to see.
Social media sites have the same mentality. I’m not going to go to Youtube and post a status update on my channel the chances of anyone seeing my status update is slim to none. Likewise, I’m not going to come over to facebook and post a video expecting to get thousands of views. You have to pick the right medium for your purpose. So here are a couple ways you can use the social sites to help you get your messages across.
Facebook, the biggest social network, with over 750 million users, aka possible customers, is probably going to be your best bet at getting some serious feedback for your product.
Facebook has given us the wonderful ability to open up a social profile for a company. You can list all of your company’s information on the about section, include links to your website, but most importantly make updates about your product.
Facebook also has a couple of applications that can help you make a splash page (the page that tells you to like their page only if you are not a fan of their page already) Check out Coca Cola’s splash page or Red Bulls page for some awesome examples and ideas.
This is the page that will set the tone for the rest of your page’s life. The old saying “the first impression is the most important impression” should be at the top of your mind while you make this page. You need to captivate and intrigue your visitors so they can click the like button on your page.
Once you get the people to like your page, then you really need to focus on your fans and offer them incentives to continue on liking your page and sharing your page with their friends. Facebook just recently rolled out a new feature that lets you “share” a fan page update. When you share the update, it adds a link at the shared status so your friends, and my friends, can all go and like this page if they find it intriguing. Most companies that are extremely successful have found a way to make the status updates go viral. Take a look at the two statuses below; see if you can tell which one was made by a very popular alcoholic beverage provider.
“Going out tonight guys let’s see where the party takes us! I’m listening to some awesome songs!”
“Going out tonight guys, let’s see where the party takes us! Check out this awesome song list I packed up for you guys! (link to a youtube song list)”
The one thing that you need to understand about social media is that people are attracted to content. We want to get things out of our “loyalty” a status update about you going out to party is making me jealous, but a status update about you going to party and you are leaving behind a sound track for me to enjoy in case I want to party with my friends, sounds a lot better than the first one. In one update the user sounds selfish, in the other, the user sounds compassionate that you wont be there with him. A social media profile will always work if you treat your fans, the same way you treat your friends.
Why would I want to hang out with a friend who never talks to me and when he talks to me he brags about how much fun he had the night before while I had to work?
Overall, facebook is very good when you have to let your audience and customers know what’s going on with your company. It’s also very good at having conversations with your customers, to make them feel like they are part of the crowd.
Then you have Twitter, another social site that only lets you update statuses. Twitter is not as big as facebook since you really don’t have that much flexibility. But twitter is great when you have a news company. It’s fast pace, and it gets your message to a whole bunch of people very quickly. So if you are constantly updating your status this is a good site for you, for example, our blog stories are constantly being updated. We get a lot of our traffic from twitter, however, if I updated facebook once every hour, it could potentially hurt my edge rank (if you don’t know what that is read this article)
Twitter is not good for one time updates, specially if the people that follow you are following 500 other people. Your status update gets lost in between the crowd. When you do update your twitter account though, make sure that you add a link to the update, otherwise it goes to waste. Here is an example:
“When I was walking outside my house I saw a small dog it reminded me of the Taco Bell dog!”
You could turn it into:
“When I was walking outside my house I saw a small dog that reminded me of this dog! (link to the taco bell dog)”
When people that see that status, they automatically feel intrigued as to what you are talking about. And they will click on your updates. Another thing to always use are Hashtags the # and the @ symbol when you get the chance (without spamming your update with hashtags) this will guarantee that your update gets seen by more people and for a longer amount of time.
So, Overall, twitter is good for fast paced news that you constantly pop out every few minutes or so. One thing to avoid “follow backs” this could be your worst enemy. You follow people that follow you back but in reality they don’t care about anything you have to say. So while you may look popular, you are the one guy in the crowd that everyone hangs out with because you hang out with them. And it makes your real loyal followers feel unimportant.
StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit
Next you have StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit, all are small but steady social networks that have the ability to bring your webpage thousands of views. But don’t confuse these networks with a social site where you can send out links to your content every 3 minutes. You need to participate in the network and send out links to every single page you find interesting. If you start to spam a website with the same content over and over and over, your site can bet banned and you’ll lose all of the site’s traffic.
These networks work by submitting a link to the site, usually this link is something that is funny, or something that has the potential to go viral, normally, theses sites are responsible for most of the viral content. When you submit the link, people either vote “yes” or “no” regarding the link. For example, if you get a whole bunch of up votes, your content will appear at the top of the page and increase the potential views to your website. If you want to be successful in these kind of networks you need to make sure that what ever you submit to these sites has humor, or something extremely popular. Make sure that you focus on the title of the article or link. Again, this is whats going to captivate your users into ranking the links to the top of the page.
The best to do is to supply content from all of your favorite blogs, every once in a while, you can submit your website to these groups and you’ll get a lot of traffic to your website almost instantaneously. But to do this, you need to be an active influencer on the networks. You need to keep in mind that there are hundreds of small social networks, each have their own fan base. These are just the big ones that we all know about.