Are you thinking about getting your business involved with social media marketing? From social networks to daily deals sites, there are a wealth of opportunities for businesses in this social age. You can keep in touch with customers and gather feedback from them directly. You can take a business relationship to more of a personal relationship. And you can take advantage of the viral spread of news, deals, and ideas.
That doesn’t mean you should rush into social media marketing. The risks can be as great as the rewards. So before your business launches a social media marketing effort, consider starting with these five things.
1. Determine your target market / audience.
You can’t use social media tools effectively if you don’t know what your goals are. And you can’t set goals if you don’t know who your target market or audience is. These are your customers. They’re your readers. Or they’re the people you want to network with — listen to, talk with, and learn from. Before you do anything else, figure out who’s included in this group (and who isn’t).
2. Find out where your target market is.
Once you know who you want your business to reach and interact with, find out where those people are in the world of social media. What tools do they actively use? What social media websites do they frequent? These are the specific tools and sites you’ll want to focus your social media marketing efforts on.
3. Find out how they use social media.
It’s not enough to know where you can find your customers or others you want to network with. You have to know how they use social media too. For example, do they blog? Are they heavy commenters? Do they tend to consume social media rather than actively participate in it? Do they respond well to advertising in social platforms or do they consider it an intrusion? All of these things will influence how you interact with these people — do you visit their blogs, pitch them stories, post special coupons or deals?
4. Choose a spokesperson to represent your company in social profiles.
If you’re the only person who represents your company in social media, such as focusing on your personal brand, you can skip this step. But if you plan to have an employee (or multiple employees) handle it, or if you plan to hire a contractor like a social media consultant, now is the time to pick someone. A scattered approach with too many unorganized personalities isn’t helpful. It’s confusing to the very people you’re trying to connect with. Choose the person best for the job based on the goals you’ve set — yourself, a PR person, a marketing person, etc.
5. Set up a social media marketing plan and policies.
Your business has an overall marketing plan, right? Then you should have one for your social media marketing efforts as well. Come up with an official plan as to which social media tools you want to use, how they’ll be used, and how often they’ll be used. Decide on a budget if you plan to advertise on social sites or hire help. And even more importantly, make sure your company has clear social media policies letting employees and contractors know how they may, and may not, use social media tools on behalf of the company.
What other things do you think businesses should focus on before they set up social media profiles or launch their first social media marketing campaign? Leave your suggestions in the comments.