What can you do when you have little or no money to put aside for advertising? How can you get the most bang for your buck? And what the heck is “social marketing” and why should you learn how to use it?
Previously I shared how you should create your message first before starting to market your company/products. This is important because presenting a consistent message over and over in different formats is going to be remembered a lot sooner than a different message every time.
So, what about social media – Facebook and Twitter? What about LinkedIn? How can these pages help your business?
Well they can actually help a lot, and cost little to nothing in the process.
the first thing you want to do is to create a Facebook group for your business. You can create a group, or a Fan Page. Or both. The group page is where you can post your updates and messages. The Fan Page is where others can post messages and links. The Fan Pages tend to be more unrestricted in the sense that unless something is terribly abusive, anything gets posted.
The first part of the Facebook page is a brief description of your business. For example, if your business is clothing, then the description would be about your clothing line. If your business is photography with an expertise in weddings, then write that.
Then there is a section for recent events – and that can be anything from tips, to sales, to interviews, to favourite web pages… anything related in some way to your business. Something that gives value to your readers/group members and has them returning for more.
Once you have those pages set up you can invite people to join your group.
Is that it you say? Is that all you have to do? No!
You should be updating your page minimum weekly. Put a link to a new blog post you’ve done – or perhaps a related blog to your business that you particularly like. Keep it fresh. Change the picture perhaps. Make it personal! (For a great article on branding – go to candidimages101.blogspot.com). Ask questions – message your members if you need some feedback on a new product. Invite members to events using the event feature – maybe it is a special sale, or a coupon code. The point is to keep this interactive and worth their while to keep coming back. If there is nothing new, they won’t stay long as a member.
Having said that – use the interactive (messaging and event invitation) judiciously and somewhat sparingly – there is nothing worse than having the same group message every day about something. I tend to tune-out then turn off those group connections.
Don’t forget you can also link in your external blog site to your Facebook page. Then each time your blog is updated, it automatically updates on Facebook. You can link your Twitter account too with the Twitter widget.
On your own page, join other groups that may be interested in what you have. Then when you have a special for example, post on a few of those pages a link to your site with a short engaging message. Just be careful not to make a lot of postings! Facebook will suspend your account, perhaps permanently!
And then there are Facebook ads. My oh my what a tool. Here is where you can target a specific age, a specific location to really focus your message to the people you want to reach. I first learned about this from a young real estate agent who shared that his ads get posted on a page when the persons status changes from single to engaged or married – he sold 28 homes in 2008 all through internet connections!
This part is not free, but it is not out of reach for most of us. I am just starting to explore this level of Facebook, and will do a trial of ads targeted for collegiate athletic programs. The possibilities are enormous! You set the price you want to pay for the ad clicks, and the limit you are willing to pay each day. So it is a really targeted media if you have a specific group in mind that you want to reach.
Getting deeper into Facebook and posting real ads is where you start adding up costs. But if your ad is well written and generates sales, then your return-on-investment will have proven itself. I will write an update on how well that has worked down the road.
Twitter is another social media that is becoming “all the rave”. I admit again that I am not as familiar with the uses of Twitter as I now am with Facebook. I think celebrities and athletes are finding this extremely useful to gather a following – so many people want to know the minutia of a celebrity’s life! Or if you are a successful business person like Joe Vitale, thousands of people hang on your every word.
I see a more practical use for Twitter in creating “a day in the life of… ” tweets. It really is a “micro-blog”. For example, using photography again you could tweet your day in the life of a photographer. That might mean “off to photo shoot”, “calming down bride”; “helped fix wedding cake”; “downloading media”; etc. etc. It could be quite interesting for the person thinking about a career in photography!
Twitter is also useful for posting notice of the start of events, or contests – short notices that let people know status has changed.
And then there is LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn.com is more of a professional business directory that can link you to thousands of people. Sometimes job postings are only posted on LinkedIn. Sometimes you want to get connected to a particular individual, and one of your connections on LinkedIn happens to be in their network – so you can ask your connection for an introduction.
You also make and receive recommendations on LinkedIn – so you can search your friends profiles and see who they recommend, and add your recommendations too. And finally, when you connect to different networks in LinkedIn, you hear about opportunities that you might not otherwise have heard of.
As you can see, all three of these social media pages have more pros than cons for being able to build connections and opportunities for your business. There are many other networks too. Just remember, you must always be mindful of what you post – anywhere – because it is somewhere in cyberspace permanently. And if it is something you regret later, it may come back and bite you. Stay focused, stay professional – even in your personal Facebook pages – and you won’t have any problems.
- Get a Facebook account for your business – either start a group from your own Facebook page or create a “fan” page for the business
- Invite friends and clients to join your page
- Post regular updates – message members if you have specials or special events going on (interviews etc)
- Post interesting links
- Use Facebook advertising to target your audience e.g. if you want to do wedding photography, target ads that go to people who update their status from single to engaged; if your product is for students, target the ad to colleges and universities. Then your ad only pops up on the relevant page.
- Get a Twitter account
- “Tweet” according to what your company does – e.g., if executive, can tweet when off to important sales meetings or closing deals; if photographer, tweet when off to photo shoot
- Set up your profile based on what you are sharing about your company. For example, you might want to tweet about a “day in the life of… “
- Tweet interesting links too that don’t always have to be related specifically to your company. If you get wind of a really funny video on YouTube (and clean fun – what is simply sarcastic to you may be hugely insulting to someone else) such as the bride and groom boogying into church, by all means pass it on. Otherwise link to things that relate to your company or what your company is about. E.g., if I hear of positive stories, I’ll tweet the link because our company is all about being positive
- Tweet special events, contests, coupon codes
- Get a LinkedIn account
- Take the time to complete your profile
- Invite people you know into your network
- ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS from people you know – people do look at these and it contributes to their decision whether or not to hire you, or use your business
- Take a look at your friends profiles – maybe they know someone you have been wanting to meet… ask for an introduction
- Make recommendations – and only recommend those you truly do recommend, not just because someone asked you to post something. You are relying on your network to be honest about their recommendations so be honest about yours.