In an age where information flows swifter than ever, it’s often difficult to get lost in the current. The vast pool of social media sites available today may seem perplexing or even a tad overwhelming, but its time businesses learn how to swim or risk sinking. With nearly 1.15 billion active monthly users on Facebook and 232 million active monthly users on Twitter, the capacity to reach consumers worldwide spans out in ways traditional media has never been able to do so.
Effective use of social media has numerous benefits for businesses small and large alike, which may include: low costs, easy entry, brand awareness, audience communication and word-of-mouth marketing, to name a few. Although the learning curve to sending a tweet may not be difficult, it is vital to differentiate the content within those 140 characters from yours to that of a drunk college student (unless your key audience is drunk college students, then by all means use the latter). Here are seven general tips through my own perspective on how to effectively utilize social media in order to adequately build a brand and foster growth within a company and within the community.
Simply Start: Much like an exercise plan, simply starting means conquering the first hurdle. Create an account on the social media sites you believe best target your demographic and make a commitment to stick to the site. Nothing’s sadder than coming across an abandoned Twitter page.
Plan Ahead: Hit the ground running with a plan in mind. Draw out a social media marketing strategy that focuses on implementing a strong and centralized branded voice as opposed to aiming too broadly. This involves investigating who your audience is and what sort of content the audience would prefer on each separate platform.
Stay Consistent and Authentic: Like Henry David Thoreau said, “Be yourself - not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.” In other words, stay true to the identity of your company. Organize content based on platform (for example, some things meant to be shared on Facebook might not work on Twitter) and keep a consistent identity throughout. Also create content that is shareable and posts that stay personable. Variety can be fun, but save the cute cat videos for some other time.
Be Reciprocal: Getting your content shared can be an amazing way to get your name out there. The almighty retweet and share buttons can be powerful tools, so use them to help spread other people’s content applicable to your business as well. Reciprocity can go a long way and potentially builds bridges and connections with peers and consumers.
Engage Your Audience: Once you’ve got your following, it is important to engage your followers and other social media friends. They chose to be part of your social media experience so allow this to be the opportunity to display the personality behind the brand name. This is one of the biggest benefits of social media; don’t take your followers for granted and allow them to see the humanity behind the scenes.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: While some may say it’s important to be on as many social media sites as possible, that is simply not the case. With dozens upon dozens of sites emerging yearly, it’s important to think about quality over quantity. It’s easier to create high quality results on a few sites as opposed to lackluster content on multiple.
Have Fun: As strategic as it may seem, implementing and talking with an audience on a few social media sites can inspire you to be innovative in ways you would of never thought of otherwise. Have fun with it and enjoy everything a global audience has to offer you.