Wendy Suto

Some great thoughts here from Wendy Suto as to how to approach social media marketing in your business.

Although social media marketing has become extremely popular in today’s day and age, there are still many businesses that haven’t figured out how to do it right. Using social media to build a functional online community that actually benefits your company is harder than it may seem. Even if you know the importance of making a good online impression and image for your company, you may be unsure of exactly how to go about doing it.
Here are some tips that will help you build an online community that will increase brand awareness and loyalty as well as drive traffic to your website and encourage purchases.

First, identify your business goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish with your online community? Do you want to increase brand awareness and enhance your company’s online image? Do you want to have a direct network where you can announce promotions and new product launches? Do you want to enhance your customer service? Luckily you can do all of these things with a social media network. However, it’s important to define your exact goals so you and your staff know what to focus on. Also, think about your target audience. What kind of information would they be interested in reading? You want to make sure your online community is a place where your target audience/customers can meet their objectives. Otherwise they will not have an incentive to come to your network. So whether their objectives are to learn about the business’s promotions and new products or have somewhere to talk to others about similar interests, make sure your social network is able to meet their needs.

Get personal. One thing to keep in mind about social networks are that they are places where people go to interact with other people. This means that the more human you make your company appear on its social network, the better. In order to accomplish this, you must talk to your audience in a conversational, casual tone. Make them feel like they are talking to a friend rather than a huge corporation. This will increase their trust in your company and therefore make them more likely to do business with you. However, keep in mind that getting too personal is never a good thing. Have your company on the brain when you post or tweet, and ask yourself, is this something my customers would appreciate or am I going too far? You are a business after all, so you must maintain some professionalism without being too stuffy.

Become an industry expert. Social networks can help you become a source for news and information that deals with your industry, which is a great thing. Post relevant breaking news stories, trivia, tips, trends and advice that deals with your industry and people will keep coming back to read more. This also enhances your company’s credibility, which will motivate people to do business with you rather than your competition. It will also ensure that your site comes up in conversation when people talk to their colleagues and friends. Becoming an industry expert will help your company gain and maintain the trust and loyalty of your customers as well as get more leads that will hopefully turn into sales.

Find out what they think. Social networking is a great way to find out what your customers think about your company, products or services. If you just launched a certain service or product and want to know if your customers approve, just tweet or post the question on Twitter or Facebook (or both) and watch the mentions, direct messages and comments fly in. People love sharing their opinion, so asking a question is one of the best ways to engage your audience. Gaining valuable opinions from customers will allow you to shape your products or services to better meet their needs, which will increase customer satisfaction and sales for you.

Give online community members privileges. Giving your online community members special privileges, promotions or information will give them an incentive to join the community. It’s important to provide an incentive to stay active within the community, so try giving members weekly specials, monthly contents, daily breaking news and more. If you’re launching a new product, make sure your online community members are the first to know. The more special access to new information, discounts and contests you give your members, the more they will talk about how fun your community is and spread the word to their friends, family and colleagues.


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About the Author

Wendy Suto is president and CEO of Search Circus, Inc., an ethical SEO firm specializing in organic search engine optimization, blog marketing, Web site copywriting and article marketing solutions. As a certified search engine optimization consultant, she teaches SEO seminars in Cleveland, Ohio.