If the use of social media continues at the current pace, this type of online communications channel will overtake traditional media as a PR tool within two years. That’s one of the findings from a recent survey by StevensGouldPincus, PR/PA agency mergers and management consultants to the communications industry.
The survey indicates that time devoted to social media each month varies slightly by firm, but the most attention goes to Facebook (31%) Twitter (29%), LinkedIn (18%), MySpace (17%), and YouTube (14%). In only five years, the chance to network through social media has become a phenomenon.
Social media and blogs have to become a key element in every business marketing plan. Experts, such as Chris Garrett, a social media blogger at chrisg.com, agree that social media has to be integrated into your overall marketing communications effort.
Starting a Social Media Campaign
For companies with dynamic products and services, Twitter and Facebook are manageable places to start a social media campaign. The first question to ask yourself when starting a social media campaign is – what do I want to accomplish?
The first step is to create Facebook and Twitter profiles and then send out an email marketing letter to all your contacts requesting that they become our fans or followers.
Using your new Facebook and Twitter accounts, begin to follow associates and experts in your field. Retweet their tweets and share their news on Facebook. People will begin to follow your company and you. Here are a few tips about social media from Bruce Burke, iPayStation, a prepaid services company that provides international mobile top-up.
- Product Information – Old news is new to many. We take much of what we sell for granted but a tried and true offering can be news to your customers. Remind them of your products.
- Promotions – Announce the specials you are running. Once is not enough. Twitter the special every few hours during the day and continue throughout the week before the special expires.
- Contests – have people sign up for prizes and drawings. By getting people to sign up, you are engaging your customer and building loyalty.
- Industry News – provide information on changes, new laws, industry market reports, and trends. Customers look to suppliers for information. You can become a resource.
- Insights – share your views on subjects pertinent to the business.
Facebook Me, Follow Me on Twitter
Facebook fan pages are created as a business platform to post information and news, and even to sell products. But first, register on Facebook.com with an email address and password, then complete the profile portion. Search for friends, family and business acquaintances to build your Facebook community. You can write on walls, share news and comment on updates. Click what you “like.”
It’s time to create fan pages. Look for “ads and pages” on the left hand side of the Facebook home page. If it is not shown, click on “more” and it will come up. Ads and pages will take you to Facebook Fan Page where you can follow the prompts to set up your pages with pictures, logos, and ads. It’s all up to you to create the pages.
Now here comes the tricky part about Fan Page; in fact, this is the tough part of online marketing. You have to build an audience for the product. You need to drive traffic to the fan pages, in much the same way that you drive traffic to your corporate website. It’s all about engaging contacts and building links to pull in visitors and customers. “Until you acquire a band of followers and friends, it is like talking to yourself,” remarked Bruce Burke.
“If a tree falls in the social media realm and nobody is there to hear it, it does not make a sound,” explained Scott Spaid, VP-Marketing, In10sity Interactive. “One way is to build an email list or leverage existing lists you own to direct market the new product.”
Encourage fans and followers to contribute to the process. Engage them by asking them to suggest features they like in your products. Spaid suggests looking at what Domino’s Pizza is doing with Show Us Your Pizza campaign: facebook.com/Dominos.
Another way to promote fan pages is to offer special giveaways. Announce a birthday club and ask people to share their favorite birthday theme to win a gift certificate. By engaging customers and rewarding them, they become loyal followers.
Integrating Social Media
Social media promotion and online marketing must work in conjunction with traditional marketing methods, such as brand building, advertising, signage, industry trade shows, referrals, public relations and media coverage. For example, include your blog URL, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter handle on all press releases and emails.
One more example: write an article. Tweet the article link, post it on Facebook, and submit it to Digg.
Social media takes practice, but every business needs to socialize on the Web.