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7 Tips to Get Real with Social Strategies that Work

“Join the conversation”, “Connect online”, and “Reach your audience”. We’ve heard the platitudes surrounding business social media marketing, but with all the same things being said all over the web, we’re all a little snow-blind to the effectiveness of any of it. Fact: Social Media Marketing can be an effective tool on your marketing itinerary. Fact: Just because you invest in Social Media marketing doesn’t mean you’ll generate leads or build your online brand with it. So, without any of the tired “guidelines”, here are 7 criteria you need to invest your time into to gain success with your social media marketing plan.

1. Stay Ahead of the Pack

By its very nature, social media marketing lives in a constant state of change; changes to services, changes to technology, changes to optional sites not to mention changes to trends and customer habits. That being said, to be successful with your social media marketing you must stay informed about the upcoming options and watch trends so you know where the industry could be going next so you’re poised to be one of the first in line. You not only need to be current, but you also need to be an innovator to draw the attention of many audiences on sites and pages.

2. How well do we Really Know Anyone?

If you’re a business looking to reach out to your target market via Social Media, you better know them really well. Not just their buying habits, not just where to find them, but you need to understand what drives their desires for your products or services. Social Media allows for one-on-one contact with your audience. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and give them something more to know about you than your logo and latest sales.

The goal of any Social Media site is to network, just like you would at a face-to-face event or gathering. Would you walk up to someone, hand them your card, talk for five minutes about yourself, and then say “Hey, want to be my friend?” Doubtful, and if you did, how many friends do you think you’d have?

Listen, react, ask, and engage your prospects and clients with genuine interest. Trust will drive your brand awareness higher than any ad you place.

3. It’s About Them, NOT You

Following on the heels of the last idea, it’s important to reiterate that genuine interest in your audience and their needs will bear more fruit than redoing your page logo. Due to the highly interactive nature of Social Media, your target market expects you to care about what they think if you offer them a Facebook page they can comment on it. Why not go all the way with that idea and invest time into caring about their day-to-day lives, and how your brand can HELP them with it?

4. Who Likes You Anyway?

Forrester Research put out a report in March of 2011 that tells us that social media users need a reason to engage with brands. Everybody knows it’s not fun to try and approach someone new and be rejected. It’s no more fun for a brand to invest time and money into outreach in the Social Media realm and have it add up to zero leads. So, how does a brand get friends online? Just like face-to-face connections, it comes down to personality.

Spend your time online building your personality and the perception of your brand. People will like that you’re thinking about them and not spamming them with “please be my friend” messages.

5. Think “Engagement is FOR your Customers, not for your Business”

Follow through on your actions in the Social Media arena. That means, if you promise new info, deals, or updates daily, then your page should be updated daily with that info. If you promise a new promotion monthly, then make sure it’s something that fits your market’s needs. In other words, mean what you say and say what you mean, every time.

6. People Love Negative News

That means they love negative news about your brand, too. People will share a bad review 10 times faster than they’ll share yet another glowing response to your brand. Keeping that in mind, and the speed with which reviews, ratings, and rumors fly around the web, be proactive if your brand is caught up in something harmful and talk about it with your friends, followers, and contacts.

Be transparent about the issue, as much as you can legally and responsibly anyway, so you have the first say about what happened, why it happened, and what you are doing to correct it.

7. Social Media is NOT a one-stop Shop for your Web Marketing Needs

Despite the fact that it seems to have all the components of the perfect marketing vehicle, Social Media cannot stand alone as a business marketing plan. When combined with email marketing, PPC campaigns, or more traditional marketing like direct mail, Social Media can be an interactive tool to heighten your brand awareness and lead generation.

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