The opportunity inherent in social media for even the smallest SME to compete on a level playing field is a good news/bad news scenario: The good news is that the fundamental steps to a proper internet marketing strategy are generally simple and inexpensive; the bad news is that, once implemented, consistent maintenance and input are required.
But if you can muster the necessary discipline (or can afford to hire staffers), a few simple rules and tips can form a solid foundation for greater popularity online, where “likes” are readily translated into business success.
What makes a foundation for solid networking through social media?
- Blogging. For years, Customer Relations Management (CRM) advisors have touted the usefulness of blogs as the single cheapest form of CRM available. Unlike Twitteresque microblogging, the longer format is proof that a real person is involved in the business and cares enough to engage a potential customer with substance.
- Facebooking. Let’s face it: You’re on it, your old high school classmates are on it, your old high school *teachers* are on it, your aunts and uncles are on it, Shaquille O’Neal’s on it … everyone’s on Facebook. So should your enterprise. A nice-looking, simple and informative Facebook profile can be created in under an hour and getting your friends to “like” builds that profile within 24 hours without effort. Later in the game, Facebook is quite useful for promotional purposes, e.g. contests and giveaways – consider this a short-term investment of time that will pay dividends later.
- Tweeting. That stuff about Facebook and how everyone’s on it? Well, Twitter isn’t *quite* so ubiquitous, but it’s great way to leverage social media to make a reputation and garner information in your specific field. First step after creating a Twitter account: “Follow” anyone and everyone remotely related to your business sphere; early on, you’ll also want to do a lot of…
- Retweeting, an excellent (and easy) way to create an informative feed at first.
- Commenting. Everywhere. Your enterprise specializes in a very specific niche? Fantastic – you’re in perfect position to become an online expert. Register for forums concerning your field and build a fact-centric profile (Including a picture! A company logo will do if you like) immediately. In future, you’ll want to visit these forums and comment relevantly where possible – it’s another great reputation-builder, especially since so many websites are directly connected to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
Now the observant reader may have noticed that each of the above subject headers are expressed as continuous verbs: This implies that action is continually required in social media! None of this social network groundwork will be of value unless it is maintained; the realities of the lightning-quick internet age has created an audience that demands new insights, information and offers around the clock.
Social networking may be inexpensive in money terms, but the entrepreneur must be prepared to invest the resource of time into this interesting and powerful opportunity.