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Social Strategy: Are You Up to the Challenge?

By Bethany Bloise

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Social media is a powerful and effective marketing tool that can significantly boost even a small business’s authority on the Internet, if you do it correctly. Just because you have room in the budget doesn’t mean you should invest in social media marketing. This guide takes you through identifying your resources, evaluating your need and choosing the right social media sites for your business.

 

What You Need:

1. A Website

Your website gives your social media credibility. If you don’t have a site that can back up the information you share on social media, wait until you build one. Your social sites should supplement your online presence, not be the only presence you have.

2. Brand materials (logos, design, taglines, etc.)

You want to be able to upload photos and designs onto your social media sites that echo your brand across all channels. Without consistent branding, your social media will not be as effective. Great branding on social media, on the other hand, will bring your business great success.

3. Resources (staff, time, etc.)

If you create a social media presence for your business and then post infrequently or rarely respond to interactions from your audience, you become a “lurker.” Before creating a profile on social media, ensure that your business has people committed to establishing a consistent and engaging online presence.

4. A Company Blog

“Blogging is…the hub around which all your social media efforts revolve.” This Stefan Boyle blog post is only one of many that emphasize this point. Use your blog to answer client or customer questions, provide unique insights or share company updates. Working alongside your website, your blog creates the content that will lead your brand to be a trusted and knowledgeable online source.

 

Evaluating Which Sites to Use:

1. Set Goals

What is your business setting out to accomplish? Knowing what you want your social media efforts to achieve will not only help you choose the right social media channels, but it will help you identify the best ways to use each channel to measure your results and progress toward your goals.

2. Define Priorities

Social media marketing is a big commitment that takes a lot of time and resources. If your business is limited in how much you can devote to your strategy, you must choose which channels are the most important to your business, then focus your resources on the identified channel(s).

3. Locate Your Audience

Be on the social networks your audience is using. There is no point to being on a network where you message is irrelevant. This might require some research or intense footwork, but in the end you won’t be marketing to a group of people who are uninterested in what you do or sell.

4. Identify Content Types

The way you plan to interact with your audience can also help you determine where to focus your social media efforts. Do you plan to post mostly images, or just text? Will you post long messages, or short snippets with links attached? A variety is great, but your primary content strategy will point toward the specific social media channels that fit your business.

For more information about these four points of evaluation, check out Vivid Image.

 

Using Social Media in 2013:

1. Facebook

Use your business’s Facebook page to reach large audiences and engage users in content you post, which should be mostly image-based. It is the most-used social network by adults in 2013, which is defined as ages 18-29, on average.

2. Twitter

Twitter provides the best source for short, timely information. Use your limit of 140 characters wisely by creating catchy headlines and attaching links, or send short updates about your business that will be seen by your online followers as soon as you tweet.

3. Linkedin

Linkedin provides a platform for professional interaction and networking. Create a company page and post regular industry articles or your own blog posts. Attract followers by both starting and participating in professional discussions on other, relevant, groups’ pages.

4. Google+

Increase your business’s visibility in search results by creating a Google+ Local page and by claiming your contributions to online publications (including on your own site) using Google Authorship. Build a following by following, or “+1” related business pages, posting regularly, and engaging with others’ posts.

If you’re interested in further evaluating your social strategy, this Business Insider blog post provides in-depth demographical statistics on each social network. Which social media platforms are getting results for your business?

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