I manage Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. I run online promotional and publicity campaigns. I post videos and photos online. I do all this in hopes of sharing my interests, growing my business and developing my brand. And yet I’ll be the first to admit it: social media exhausts me! But while I waver in my love of e-marketing, I can’t deny it—social media is on fire. Not only that, it’s a clever way to bridge the gap between consumers and business owners, and aficionados and industry influencers.
To help me better streamline my online marketing efforts, I attended the Social Media and Online Marketing Tactics seminar at Small Business BC. Hosted by Mhairi Petrovic—founder and president of Out-Smarts Marketing, a Vancouver-based marketing firm—the workshop transitions from traditional forms of media and self-promotion to social media strategy and business objectives. So while I juggle my many online media sites and promotional channels, here are some Petrovic-inspired tactics on how to build your business and brand:
A Social Media Plan and Who’s Who and What’s What
Before you build a Twitter skin or create a Facebook page, understand your social media goals. Why are you online? Are you out to grow your audience? Do you want to promote upcoming projects and gain greater brand awareness? Is your business best represented on Facebook, Twitter or Google+? Like any strategy, it’s best to sketch out a plan. Quantify your presence. Do you have the time and zest for writing a blog post once a week? Do you care to post to Twitter when your message might be better suited to a Facebook group page? Design your approach with time and avenues in mind.
Step two of your plan: outline the basics. Who’s your audience, what’s your message, what are your objectives. Without this you can’t market much. Plus, also consider tone and voice. Dry and authoritative posts might not fare well with younger generations. Speak to and engage your target. Remember, it’s a conversation, not a barrage of information.
A Few Good Sites
When it comes to social media, less is more. Rather than spread yourself thin on too many social networks (and let’s face it, there are many), stick to the ones that will best showcase your product or services. Have an unlimited workforce? Then go for it. But for most small and medium-sized businesses, time is of the essence. And while e-marketing might not cost much, it’s time-heavy. Write a blog, or Tweet. Tweet and post on Facebook. Or Instagram photos and forget the rest. Do what is right for you. There is no set method. It’s a matter of being the most effective without losing sight of your message, your brand and your voice.
Me vs. My Business
I struggle with this. How do I maintain my own voice within a sea of industry influencers and other businesses vying for the same piece of the pie? Well, like everything, it’s a game of balance. Whether you’re sharing the latest biz news, retweeting ridiculousness or simply posting beautiful photos and videos—you must be genuine. Social media isn’t as far from traditional marketing as one may think. Ever go to a networking event and get stuck with the guy who shamelessly self-promotes with everyone’s business card in hand? Find him annoying? Sure. Same goes for the online world. Be authentic and be balanced. While Petrovic speaks of an 80-20 ratio of added value and persona respectively, I think it’s pretty intuitive. Share your message, promote your contests, follow your competitors and listen for their competitive angles, comment on industry standards and the like and repost clever musings. Be strategic, but above all, be social and be yourself.
Whether you’re a fan of Pinterest, YouTube, or Google+, be a consistent sharer. Ever come across a Twitter page that’s been inactive since 2010? Why would you follow? You wouldn’t. In fact, you’d think the company was on hiatus or simply not influential. If you’re in the game to social media-ize your business, keep up your efforts. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to post fifty times a day or retweet 20 posts for every one you put out. Do what works for you, but do it on a regular basis. Consistency means longevity.
Each social network has its analytic tools. I’m not a fan. But there is great value in understanding the power of a message. Put out a contest and no one responded? Posted a link to your latest blog post and not one click? Take into account when you’re posting (time of day and time of year) and whether your 140 characters are enticing enough for users to follow through. Presentation is half the battle. The other half is making sure you’re doing your due diligence to measure what’s working and what needs finessing. Try a different angle. Explain the link without giving it away. Target your audience, but be clever. Remember it’s about intrigue and interest. So use both of them to your advantage. We’re talking social media marketing for business, not just e-talking.
See the Whole Picture
Social media might be foreign to many but it’s a simple extension of traditional marketing: building an audience, growing awareness, promoting services and wares, and creating dialogue. For the first time in history we can reach out to individuals and not just faceless corporations. This is powerful stuff. Rather than get caught up in post quotas, Follow Fridays and re-sharing just to get noticed by media moguls and industry gurus—see the forest for the trees. Social media is a component to biz marketing. It allows you to reach an international audience that’s otherwise inaccessible, and for next to no money. Understand that your posts are extensions of your real world presence, but are still a means to share your objectives, experiences, and when done well, yourself.
Whether my love for e-media is rekindled has yet to be determined. Petrovic’s seminar, however, was a nudge in the right direction—not only a good refresher for the seasoned social media-er but solid advice for any novice e-marketer. Be sure to reach out to @OutSmarts on Twitter for more marketing tactics to come.