With all of the social networking sites available and all of the potentially untapped markets to enter, knowing which forums are best for your company can be tricky. The temptation may be to set up a presence on every site you can find, but we encourage you to be more selective in your online marketing efforts. Here are a few simple steps to consider before engaging in social networking for your small business:
- Know what you want to accomplish. Outline your goals so that you can see clearly where you’re headed and gauge how successful your campaign is. The first question to ask is: what functions will you be using social media for? A study done by Josh Gordon called “The Coming Change In Social Media Business Applications: Separating the Bizz from the Buzz” indicated that 71.8% of businesses use their social media forums for branding while 70.5% of businesses use these same forums for information sharing. At Cybernautic, lead generation is one of the most important functions we see for social networking. What do you hope to get out of your social networking efforts?
- Know your customer base. Find out which social networking sites your customers already use and set up accounts on those sites. Market to people who are already searching for you and maybe even already talking about you.
- Build a following. Use We Follow to register yourself on Twitter. Follow interesting and worthwhile people. Tell all of your friends and family to follow you, or to become your fan on Facebook or to connect to you on LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the better chance you’ll have of drawing traffic and leads to your site.
- Encourage your followers and fans to invite their friends. Tell them what your goal is and ask them to help you meet it. Let them talk about you and share your links with their friends to create trustworthy referrals.
- Give your followers incentive to keep following you or to keeping being your fan. Call them to action by asking them to retweet your links on Twitter, share your links on Facebook, and tell their friends and family to become fans. Even better, give them a reason to do so – offer an incentive or create a collective goal that people will feel good about achieving.
Because of the viral nature of social networking, discussions are not limited to the forum they started in. If you engage someone on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, you will find that they talk about you on Myspace, Digg, and Del.i.cious too. Give your fans reasons to spread good information about you into their communities. Be accessible and timely so that people feel that communication with you is rewarding to them. Respond to your tweets and Facebook messages. Let people know that their interaction is important to you.