If you tweet it, will they follow? Using social media is a step in the right direction, but it must be used properly and purposefully to get results. "New Media" stormed into the business world so rapidly that most business owners have had little time to discover how to use it most effectively.
1. The platform trumps the content of your message
One of the most frequent misunderstandings regarding social media marketing is the notion that the message itself matters less than rapidly spreading it via today's trendy technology. Content is king, and social media is merely a tool for delivering a thoughtful, well-crafted message. The great news is that the process behind creating a good message hasn't changed.
2. Quantity transcends quality.
Sheer quantity of Twitter followers or Facebook likes does not necessarily translate to increased business. Generally speaking, the quality of your social media connections will always be more important than their quantity. Once you've caught the attention of a quality connection (be it a current or potential client), enrich him or her through active, personalized engagement. Inactive or inattentive social media accounts bore users and guarantee disengagement.
3. Outsourcing is necessary for successful campaigns.
No one knows your company, its values, and the message you are aiming to communicate better than you and your staff. Social media consultants and strategists can be valuable in the creation of campaigns and strategies, but when it comes to your unique message, your customer base wants to hear from you. At best, outsourcing the entirety of your social media marketing efforts will save you a bit of time; at worst, you run the risk of devaluing your brand with content that doesn't match your company's message. Many third-party applications and tools (such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite)
Where to Focus Your Time & Energy
1. Don't reinvent the wheel!
Utilize social media to expand upon the techniques and marketing efforts that already yielding postitive results. For example, if email marketing is a tried and true lead generator for your company, bump it up a notch with social media! A recent study found that small businesses using social media in conjunction with email marketing had (on average) 53% larger email lists than their email-only counterparts, and also enjoyed higher click-through rates. Think of the tactics that are already working to your advantage, and see how you can energize them with social media.
2. Know who you are speaking to.
It is critical to design your social media marking around the platforms that are prevalent within your target audience. Again, it is matter of quality versus quantity: opening an account on every platform is likely more effort than it's worth. It's a myth that social media is only for the young, but not all platforms hold equal value for all demographics. Research shows in the Washington-Baltimore region consumers love daily deal sites like Groupon. People are also using facebook and twitter, but primarily on their smartphones. Go where your market is and don't spread yourself too thin unnecessarily. Otherwise, even if you're tweeting it, they might not come to you.