Social Networking has transformed from a way that college kids could keep in touch to a main stream tool for capitalism. Social Media is one of the newest tools available to the global economy as more and more businesses are adopting Social Media Marketing Plans. With an audience of over 500 million users, Social Media has become the platform for engaging with clients and prospects on a real time and personalized level over several demographics and without the use of focus groups. Real time visibility and access to your products and services, that lend immediate and high value leads beyond your website is possible through Social Media Marketing. Even your web based search engine standing is affected by Social Networking interaction and relationship building. Just spend a little time tracking your Social Media efforts with valuable ROI statistical values and you will quickly learn that Social Media Marketing is a highly effective and low cost marketing solution. There is no easy button for Social Media Marketing and your do have to invest a little perspiration into playing this game, but the rewards can be overwhelming and that is a good problem to have. So, how does a company manipulate a medium that is meant for personal interaction into a business development and customer service tool? If you are ready to get your companies feet wet in the Social Marketing game, you can start with four basic steps. Be careful, as once you get a hang of these four basic steps, you might just catch the Social Media bug and be well on your way to developing even more world class tools for your career tool box.
- Establishing Your Audience: All great marketing plans start with who, what, when, where and how. Being popular is important in the Social Media Marketing game, so who you choose to interact with is important. Begin your Social Media Marketing Plan by establishing your audience (who) and building your Social Media Network (where). Finding a strong corporate brand image and voice (what) should also be given so forethought when establishing your viewers and Social Media Marketing Plan. How you handle communications (when and how) will be easier to define once you establish your audience and give them a strong and recognizable brand image. Jump start the who, where and what of your Social Media Marketing Plan at Social Networking as a Business Development Tool.
- Branding Your Social Media Marketing: Social as defined as an adjective is 1) pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club 2) seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious and as a noun as a social gathering or party, especially of or as given by an organized group. Basically, social is a friendly group. When industry blurs the lines between friends and client/prospects, certain safeguards have to be put in place to ensure that your company is not seen as the stinky kid that no one wants to be friends with. Identifiable branding becomes your platform for the “what” you want to accomplish in your Social Media Marketing Plan. Become the popular kid on the block through branding and Social Media Optimization as described in Building a Social Network Brand Image for Your Company.
- Communications and Content Posting: Once you have established the foundation of your Social Media presence with a strong corporate brand and interconnected Social Network, the time has come to start fostering the relationships you are building. Relationships grow when people are in contact with each other. Think about it. Are you still active friends with people you do not communicate with anymore? Conversations in Social Networking start as postings and become the “how” of your Social Media Marketing Plan. Basically, start points for conversations to begin with new prospects and conversation expansion points with current clients, vendors and other established relationships. Finding a rhythm for your communications becomes the “when” of your Social Media Marketing Plan. The frequency of posting is not an exact science and requires paying attention and keeping a pulse on your audience. Statistical analysis is helpful when determining how often and what content to post. Social Media Marketing is a popularity contest at times and you do not want to be known as the shy kid or bully. For a guideline on how to start creating your online conversations, visit Opening the Lines of Communication through Social Media.
- Transitioning Relationships into Sales Opportunities: Social Networking is a relationship building network and not the shopping network. The first step to becoming a Social Media outcast is to use this media as a direct sales platform. You might be wondering at this point why all this work for a marketing plan that seems to be about chatter and does not appear to generate leads. Ask yourself, whom would you rather do business with, a complete stranger or a friend? Now consider when doing business with a friend, how do you transition the relationship into a sale? Social Media Marketing is about building relationships and then transforming that relationship into a sale. For tips on how to make this transition look to Transitioning the Social Networking Relationship into Making the Sale.
To get you where you are today, you went beyond your Kindergarten education. Basic Social Media Marketing as described above is the colors, numbers, alphabet and shapes for Social Media Kindergarten. In order to remain the cool kid on the playground, you will need to continue your education, sharpen your skills and expand your toolbox.
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