The business case for leveraging social media as a business tool has been made time and time again. Startups to big business use the platform of social media to spread ideas, connect with their audience, and ultimately drive sales.
When working with clients I often am confronted with glossy eyes when talking about the topic of social media. Chances are they’ve read about it in the mainstream media, however, putting it in to action is another thing all together. If you consider yourself a social media fan boy shout hooray and jump to the comments below and give us your fill after skimming this primer, but if you are fall into the glossy eyed category or want to read this basic primer, read below for a primer on how to start out in social media for business.
Social media in itself comprises of many different elements, but two of the most common and important categories:
Blogging for business
Social since inception, blogs were designed and still hold strong as great publishing platforms to create useful content and share it with a wide audience. With built in web feed abilities (RSS/Atom), blogs make it possible to publish content and “push” it out to other services. For an example, see this explanation on Facebook how to import your feed as Notes.
Picture your website, and blog in particular, as a hub where all of your social media activity and presence across the Internet should point back to. This is important, as all of the content and important information about your business is no good if no one ever hears about it. Don’t shamelessly self-promote every chance you get, but rather use social media etiquette.
If no one already told you, get your own domain name. Don’t use the subdomain from a service, no matter how much you like it. To sum up other people’s experiences, once you build a great following around and get massive amounts of links to yourawesomewebsite.wordpress.com and then decide to migrate to your custom domain later, its a pain and you lose traffic and followers. Start off fresh, and get a domain name now. Its cheap and easy, and you will not regret it later. Its OK to have your website hosted on a service like WordPress.com, if that is what you prefer, but use custom domain features.
Social networking for business
No matter what industry you are in, social networking can work for your business. It just depends however, on how you choose to use it and where your audience is. If you are speaking to an older generation, you may have to be crafty and see where they are hanging out. With valuations on the larger social networks sometimes coming out at us with mind boggling numbers (such as LinkedIn’s over $2 Billion valuation), you can bet that the social media research companies are still spewing out reports and research about how consumers and business use these services.
Facebook isn’t just for the cool kids anymore. With over 500 million active users, and 900 million objects made up of pages, whether business or community, and events, they clearly have a lot of activity happening there. Accordingly, businesses are leveraging their platforms to attack their target markets more effectively. Although in the spotlight for concerns over privacy and changes to the way advertisers and marketers can access information, Facebook remains adamant that the information is still in your control.
Twitter boasts a flurry of activity happening each day with many millions of updates from around the globe. From fast breaking news, to still the good old lunch tales, it has a lively and active community of people ready to speak their mind. Businesses may find it challenging to have active “conversations” with their audience on Twitter, only because it seems personal connections make for better success, but many businesses still use the platform and thrive, assuming they are active listeners and are useful.
LinkedIn remains the premier website of social networking for business. With a thriving advertising system, and active groups, there isn’t anything bad to say about using LinkedIn for business, other than it can sometimes be confusing to newbies. I often see profiles that aren’t filled out properly or people let LinkedIn invites build up for eternities before accepting. LinkedIn isn’t just a great living “resume” or CV, its a platform that needs to be used daily, or as often as possible to do things such as connect with other like minded professionals, or find clients and partners. Companies can use it as an excellent passive recruitment tool. It still is the best kept secret in that realm. Spend less on your job searching and just see who is already in your network, connected to your friends and partners.
How to make it happen for your business
As a business, it’s important for you to focus your time on what works best for you. Leveraging these platforms will depend on available talent, time, and resources. Do a bit of research to find out where your target audience is, and spend time with them. You already likely have a great network of contacts, invite them to join you on social networks, make sure they know about your blog, and keep it fresh and alive with relevant content of their interest. Don’t be afraid to experiment: that is what it’s all about. Try new things, don’t let the same old processes get in the way of exploring new ways to communicate and do business. The payoffs are far too great to miss out.
About the Author: An avid inbound marketing strategist, Mark Mathson gets to live his passion every day while consulting on social media marketing. He enjoys conversing on Twitter and growing and adding value to his network on LinkedIn
(Photo credit: LarryLens)