social media marketing strategies

 

Anyone can create a blog – for free – and reach millions. Or upload a YouTube video that becomes a viral sensation, or set off similar chain reactions across Twitter or Facebook.

Companies say that lack of knowledge is their biggest barrier to participating in social media. The journey into this on-line world requires some preparation – but don’t be daunted. It’s not that complicated, but it does require a time commitment.

It's because of the knowledge required and the time constraints that many companies and organizations opt to hire Wild West Communications to develop their social media strategies.

However, if you do decide to take the DIY approach to social media, all you have to do is follow a few simple rules. Above all, be bold – but at the same time, demonstrate an educated reserve. If you pursue a direct and provocative sales approach, your unsolicited marketing materials will be seen as spam. But your views and opinions are interesting. Never dodge tough questions. Be approachable. Entertain and inform. Enjoy what you do, and you'll find other people will too!

Before you take the bull by the horns, make sure your website is up to date. Focus on design, content, search engine optimization and excellent images.

It's a good idea to carry forward some elements of your website design, even if it's just your logo and colour scheme, and key elements of your content into your social media campaign. It looks slick if everything dovetails into a unified look. However, keep in mind that your website, blog and social media content should be written specifically for the demographics of each. Bear in mind that not all social media platforms draw the same audience. Evaluate which sites are yielding the best results for your business and whether you need to adjust your social media strategy to fit your marketing mix.

The best bang for your buck are blogs and Facebook – while many businesses use Twitter, Facebook is our recommendation because it allows people to join in a conversation. And you get more than 140 characters to create your posts!

LAUNCH YOUR BLOG WITH A BANG

The best thing about launching a blog is you get to be a trailblazer - you build everything yourself. Your blog can have about us pages and all the informational materials of a static site, but the homepage is essentially rolling news. So don’t overlook the background pages, but above all, don’t forget to keep it fresh. Ideally, you will need to post two pieces a week. It's hard work, and a long-term investment also, as you want to build lasting relationships.

The key to a successful blog is being able to produce simple, concise, well crafted ideas that tell a story. Along the way, make sure key search engine optimization terms are dotted through the text, especially the title of each posting. Everything you post is enhanced by having a picture to go along side it.

If you feel comfortable enough to launch a blog yourself, consider using Wordpress – you pay to download the theme and for site hosting – or opt for a free one, like Google blogspot (this is simplifying the choices somewhat). Google is a more intuitive interface, and makes sense if it’s just you writing. Wordpress has great impact when you get a group of bloggers together to come up with copy for you, and that gets you higher up the Google news listings.

It’s straightforward to drive traffic to a blog. You share links with similar sites, post copy with news sites, and then go about posting on other people’s blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, tweet on Twitter. And on every item you write, include at least one hyperlink back to your own site. It gives you an extra link, especially when other people lift your copy.

Blogs are now often found at the top of the Google rankings.

FACEBOOK: BALANCING BUSINESS AND PLEASURE

With more than 600 million active users, Facebook has a massive potential for online marketing - it's likely that your customers and clients are already there! The biggest barrier to using Facebook for business is drawing a line between the personal and the professional.

It's very simple to create a page on Facebook (they used to be called fan pages) for your business or community group, complete with your logo. The pages get indexed on Google – and come out surprisingly high in the listings. The good news is that you look professional because your company logo can appear over your posts, rather than your photograph. The more visitors that hit the like button, the more people you will have following things, and the more conversations that will be inspired - it's said that 500 likes is the turning point after which things snowball. It’s always a good idea to post photos, links and videos. Asking questions, particularly polls, is a surefire way of generating discussion.

But above all, the secret to using Facebook as a business resource is in the friend lists and privacy settings. The friend list controls who sees what you publish, and the latter, what people read about you when they visit your personal page. So definitely turn key contacts into friends, because they will not have access to your personal postings detailing what you had for dinner last night!

WIKIPEDIA: RE-WRITING HISTORY

The web’s number one source of factual information – Wikipedia – is something that allows anyone to log in and "re-write" history. It’s simple to log into Wikipedia and create a page. Although you are not supposed to use it for self-promotion - it's easy to spot that many of the subjects have had a hand in the writing. Above all, entries must be balanced, with everything backed up by external links. Wikipedia also has notability standards, and so want the amount of content to reflect the international importance of the subject.

YOUTUBE: LIGHTS, CAMERA ACTION

And then there's movies. . . it is quick and easy to share videos via YouTube - they can be shot on a digital camera and edited with the Movie Maker software that came bundled with your computer. It's simple for you, or anyone else, to add these to websites and blogs.

How to engage generation Google

Social media has created a social revolution that has changed the way the world communicates online. Social networking has created a bridge that has joined young and old and reached out across international boundaries to connect disparate communities.

This isn’t a fringe thing: social networking now accounts for 22 per cent of all time spent online in the US, and one in four people aged 65 and older are now part of a social networking site.

But what is social media? Essentially, it's any site with user-generated content. For all its rough edges, it’s an excellent way of communicating with people that have never heard of you, because you are reaching them where they hang out. It’s a great way of driving traffic to your website; interest them and they will come and check you out. Just the act of creating all those links to your site will push you up the Google rankings and bring more people in. And when you are on the up, the faster things come together for you.

It also serves as a listening post. Who is talking about your company, service or product, and what are they saying? And what are they saying about your competitors?

This is what makes social media so intriguing and ultimately so important for business. Social media usage by small business owners doubled in 2009 and has continued rising. A 2010 survey found that more than 60 per cent of Fortune 500 companies now use some form of social media marketing.

Used well, social media marketing can increase the visibility of brands and raise the profile of companies and organizations. You can be capturing public attention while building relationships with potential and existing customers.

Before you saddle up and ride off into the social media sunset, there's a few points to keep in mind. It’s time intensive - if you are inviting people to ask you questions on Facebook, you need to be there to answer them - there can be a lot of discussion! You can't be too blatantly commercial, nor will you be in complete control of what’s said. There’s always the chance a disgruntled customer will pop up with a complaint, or someone will point out that a competitor is cheaper, better or faster.

Think of social media as a sometimes frank two-way discussion. While it's free to use, you never really get something for nothing. The cost is that it takes work.

At Wild West Communications we're here to help you bring it all together. We have created, implemented and managed the gamete of social media platforms, for a diverse range of customers and clients. This is our passion and we stay on top of the trends to ensure our clients are at the forefront of this dynamic and powerful communications strategy.