Before you embark on creating social network profiles for your business or brand, know that certain things must be considered prior to you using your time and energy. With over 600 million people already on Facebook and over 200 million on Twitter, the social media world is pretty crowded. These are only the most popular sites too. Additional social networking sites are gaining momentum and are growing at a faster rate than the two giants. LinkedIn, the professional networking site, has recently passed the 100 million user mark too. Every day, new people, brands, businesses, bands, groups, and other organizations create profiles for these sites. If you’re thinking about entering your business or brand into the masses, the following portion of this post will discuss some ideas and pose some questions that you need to mull over. This will help you think through if the social networking scene is a correct route to take for you to reach your business goals.
Are you just jumping on the bandwagon? What is your objective?
As the introduction stated, more and more profiles are created daily on social networking sites. If you think you need one for your business because everyone else has one, I’ll ask you to reconsider. Think about what you hope to achieve by using social media. Is your objective to help brand your business, gain exposure, build a relationship, or do something else entirely? Be honest with yourself if you think you have potential to profit from investing in social media. Furthermore, the size of your business is no indication if social networking use will provide benefits. Your business does not have to be a corporate goliath, and can in fact be a small, mom and pop store and still successfully utilize social media. But, so what if you have 234 followers for your family-owned, small-town laundromat: if you’re not offering anything unique to your followers, you are participating in wasted effort. This brings us to the next main point.
What is your special offering, or message, that you are giving to your followers?
In order to experience success with social media, people are going to need to want to hear what you have to offer. This is where a lot of businesses end up failing. Only a very small percentage of your followers are going to care that it is your cat, Twinkie’s 8th birthday, or that your shop has a full supply of paper towels and bubble-gum flavored mouthwash. Instead of possibly annoying them with useless banter, you need to offer some sort of help or assistance to your followers. This could be insight into what is happening in the industry of your business, new trends, an idea you have that might help others, reminders about holidays and other local events, sales and promotions, and so much more. A quality example is if a national clothing store posted a link to an article about fall fashion trends. Here, readers receive help and recommendations of how they should dress and will appreciate the store for providing this information.
On a related note, be careful about only promoting store promotions and sales. Customers will learn to only shop when they can get a deal. Promoted sales and discounts should be used sparingly. Similarly, you should never continually discuss your product in effort to sell it. Your followers will see through your spam posts and unfollow you, or just ignore you (if you are lucky). Offering something special will take time and effort. Make sure you can do this.
Do you have the time, energy, and resources to use social media?
Creating content, or searching for it to repost it, takes time. Whereas social media is a cinch to utilize for personal, family and friend reasons, putting it to a professional, business use is more complicated. Analyze what your special offering is and ask yourself if you want to personally invest the time in communicating that message to the public, or if you want to pay someone else to do it. What you can afford to do for your special offering will be different for everyone, so the best advice I can give is to make certain that you believe your effort will be worth it. Furthermore, updating your page on a consistent basis is also necessary. One post a month will not be enough, but twenty posts a day may be too much. You want to open up a two-way conversation without irritating your followers. This will then involve you actually reading what your followers have responded to your posts, which could give you ideas for future content , and communicate back with them to build rapport for your brand. With a constant conversation, your followers will know that you care what they have to say.
Have you looked into other social media besides Facebook and Twitter?
Yes, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social networking sites and could be put to great use for you. But, there are so many more sites other than these two. Look around and do some research to see if another site may be better suited to your needs, or will appeal more to your target audience. For example, instead of microblogging on Twitter (140 characters or less), a full-length blog provided free from WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger could be used. Additionally, many social networking sites can now be connected so your information is fed from site to site. Here, you could have your WordPress blog fed into your Twitter and then ported to your Facebook page. Again, be careful about annoying your followers, though.
Other sites like Redditt, Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon are social news websites that you can post your content to, allowing others a greater chance of coming across it. Foursquare and Facebook’s Places provide users the opportunity to inform their friends where they are, whether it is their house, a park, or your business. Taking action and filling out the information of your “place” and maybe utilizing the feature that allows you to advertise a deal or coupon could help increase business traffic. Doing your research to see where your effort is best utilized is essential for effective social media use.