At the end of the day, the bottom line with any form of marketing is ROI – what return do we expect for the time, money and resources spent on the investment. In the realm of social media, the ROI payoff comes through interactive conversation with potential clients and the creation of a postive impression in the public’s mind of your expertise and credibility. Just like buying commercial time on television or any other marketing, you use social media outlets to perpetuate a consistent impression in the public’s mind of what you do and how well you do it.
The landscape of social media is changing rapidly. Today’s Twitter and Facebook might be tomorrow’s MySpace or AmericaOnline. So be open to change and innovation when you plan your approach. You might decide to concentrate on one or two sites to begin building up a following or circle of ‘friends.’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the obvious most popular choices now. Each site has a different focus as well – and you can find many resources online to compare the top social media sites and their features.
But one step at a time is the best way to build any marketing campaign, and social media is no different. Use both graphics and content to put forth a consistent brand image across all the platforms, anchored in your company’s home website and blog. Your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts should all work in tandem to be recognizable and to drive traffic and interest to your website for both information, further contact and, of course, sales. Your blog should prove to be your most effective tool for establishing your credibility and resourcefulness. Again, use the social media platforms to draw interest to your blogposts, and in turn, to your e-commerce website. Provide links to both current and past blog content. Consider offering special deals or printable coupons by visiting your webpage. Keep in mind your goal of creating interest in and driving traffic to your site.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an inexact and ever-changing terrain. Familiarizing yourself with some of the basics is helpful in both writing content for your blog or website and understanding the overall structure of the web. But it can also prove daunting. Don’t let the technicalities of SEO prevent you from getting your content up and out there. A consistent presence is important, and fine-tuning SEO considerations can come with time.
An overall philosophy to keep in mind for blogging and social media is the most obvious one: be social. Avoid bragging, heavyhanded salesmanship, confusing data or being too opinionated – in other words, any potentially obnoxious social behavior that would drive people away. And remember to provide value to those who visit your blog or site – free of charge. Establishing yourself as a good source of helpful, freely given information will go a long way in winning loyalty and interest from the public. Be there to help – it is the best way to get noticed and a great public service. Also, another important component of being social, is to participate. Interact with other blogs, post comments and updates on Facebook and LinkedIn, be sure and tell others when their information was useful or their commentary especially enlightened. Avoid undue criticism or argumentativeness. Being a good virtual friend is a reward in itself, but will also shine a nice light on your brand and all your marketing efforts.
The ROI of a good social media strategy is ultimately quantifiable in sales figures, but a more immediate return will be seen in strengthening your brand image, bolstering your credibility and market knowledge, and generating positive public opinion. Being social should be enjoyable… take a holistic approach and see what you can create through the interaction!
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