Ahh, social media. The golden ticket to increased profits and a life time of wealth. All you have to do is setup a Twitter and Facebook profile and start sending updates and magically people will start following and responding to you.
If you believe this, you’ve been lead down the wrong path. While social media may cost less than other marketing methods, it still requires planning, time and patience. If you just jump in without knowing what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish, you may not get the results you expected, leading you to believe it’s all a huge waste of time.
Step Back from Social Media
I probably sound like a broken record, but before you start with any social media, you really need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. That means understanding your business: who your customers are, what benefits you provide to them, and what your business goal or objective is. Once you understand your business — what you’re trying to accomplish and who you’re trying to reach — it’ll be much easier to figure out what tactics and tools to reach those objectives.
Find the Right Tools
Everyone jumps on the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn bandwagon. Sure, those are probably the most popular social networks, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right ones for your business and who you’re trying to connect with. You need to do a bit of research to find out where your customers are currently hanging out online. It may be industry blogs or discussion boards or there may be a specific social network that’s a better fit. Find your customers online first to decide what types of social media or online tactics will work best to connect with them.
Provide the Right Message & Information
If you want people to respond to you, you need to be providing useful information and the right message. Learn what types of questions your audience has and work on providing answers. Follow industry trends and provide useful news and tips. Have conversations and share other people’s work. Be a giver. Social media will never work for you if you just use it as another marketing channel.
Share & Distribute
Don’t be obnoxious, but it’s ok to cross-distribute your content to several places online. If you blog, post a link to your other social networks as well. Look for social networks where you can share your content to help your message get out to a larger audience. Remember to look for places that target the people you want to reach.
Social media can be frustrating if you start using it and don’t get any response. Unfortunately, the reality is that you have to work at being found. You have to have conversations with people and you have to be consistent in your posting schedule. If you blog only once in awhile, you’re never going to get enough traction for people to discover you.
Ask for Help
If you’re not getting anywhere with your social media endeavors, try talking to people who have had some luck using social media in your industry. Ask them what worked for them and where they’ve found success. Also, ask them how long it took them to really get any traction. You may be surprised to find similar circumstances and some tactics you hadn’t thought of.
How have you made social media work for you?
(photo by fdecomite)