As we discussed briefly in our previous post, social media as a marketing tool does have some legitimate issues to be discussed. These more or less all revolve around how, exactly, to make social media work in marketing. And we’ll be honest—it can be tricky. In fact, there are no magic bullets or hard and fast rules yet. With the dynamic nature of social media, there may never be. But here are a few things to keep firmly in mind:
Don’t be pushy.
The majority of social media users are young. And even those that aren’t consider themselves sharp, savvy consumers. They don’t want to be sold to. This is why pay-per-click and sponsored search results are a dicey proposition. Blatant, pushy attempts to advertise through social media aren’t going to work well, and will more than likely leave people with an untrustworthy view of your business. Authenticity, transparency, and engagement are more likely to win you business than salesmanship. And people are much more likely to respond positively to recommendations from friends than to obvious marketing ploys.
Be fun and engaging.
Talk about local happenings: the weather, the big local news story, the new microbrew on tap at the restaurant next door, something cool one of your regular customers or one of your employees did. You can also post funny pictures, industry news and trends. In short, be social. Get your business’ personality out there and use social media just as you would for an individual account. Sure, drop in a post about a special you’re running once in a while, but if that’s all people are getting from you, they’ll tune out pretty quick.
Don’t think about social media as a gimmick
or an add-on to your normal marketing strategy. You need to integrate it into the very heart of your business. It’s not a great mystery—you talk with customers all the time. If you’re really baffled by social media, that’s the best way to look at it. It’s just you, talking to customers—and them talking to you. Exactly what these conversations look like will vary, because again, it’s all about the personality of your business.
Social media can be a tremendous resource for understanding consumers, finding needs that aren’t being met, learning what people are interested in and what they care about. That’s one of the great beauties of social media—it’s never a one-way conversation.
People use social media to be entertained as much as to be informed. Get the conversation started by being entertaining and you’ll be providing a space for your customers to be entertaining right back—to you and to each other.
When it comes to integrating social media into your online marketing campaign, it’s all about establishing and maintaining relationships. If you do that, you can be successful in building up a solid base of loyal clients dedicated to singing your praises and bringing you more clients through word-of-mouth recommendations online.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for using social media as a marketing method. It all depends on your industry, your personality (and your business’), and your customers. Think about these guidelines though. We think they’ll help.