Social media is a powerful force for businesses of all sizes, allowing them to connect with millions of potential customers in a timely, intimate and interactive way. And unlike other forms of marketing and advertising, it’s low-cost, greatly leveling the playing field for small-to- medium businesses.
But to make the most of social media it’s important to have a social media strategy in place. Otherwise you’re likely to end up with a page filled with only your friends and relatives, or worse still, a social media profile that doesn’t reflect your brand personality and values.
Social media greatly impacts on brand reputation. According to a survey conducted by RightNow, 16% of Australian consumers reported they had stopped doing business with a company because of a social media discussion they had seen about how the company treats customers. Another 16% stated they had also seen a positive discussion about a company and gone on to make a purchase.
Whether or not you engage with social media, conversations are already happening about your brand online. So it makes sense to take control, join the conversation and develop an online community that matches your brand personality and values.
A good social media strategy will not only help you do this, but will also leverage social media channels to increase brand awareness, boost sales and attract media attention.
Your strategy should address:
What you want to get out of social media. Before you start-out on social media it’s important to have measurable goals you want to achieve. Are you trying to gain new leads, expand brand, connect more deeply with existing customers or attract media attention?
Your unique online brand personality. What is your community about, who is in it and how do you want to interact with them? To succeed in social media, you need to build a unique community and brand personality.
Time and resources. Once you are up and running with social media, how do your plan to manage your facebook, twitter and LinkedIn profiles? Social media takes time, experience and creativity. So consider employee training or outsourcing to a social media consultant.
The unique opportunities and risks for your business. Just because your friends’ businesses and your competitors are using social media one way, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Your business is unique, with unique opportunities and risks so your social media strategy should factor that in.
Social media can be a powerful force for your business, helping you build relationships with clients, prospects, referral sources and traditional media channels. But don’t leave it to chance – enlist the help of a social media consultant to help you develop a social media strategy for your unique business and goals.
Katie Carroll is director social central – a social media agency that helps businesses on their social media journey via workshops, strategy and community management packages.