In Part One of our Social Media Marketing Series, we covered the fundamentals. What follows is a checklist of great social sites to leverage along with how to get it going and the content you can put into each spot:
If you haven’t done it already, create a Facebook Page for your business (type “Facebook Pages” into the search box when in your personal Facebook account page to find the section, and then click on the “+ Create Page” button to get started). Once this is done, the obvious next step is to get people to become “Fans” of your business:
- Ask all of your friends and family
- Run a contest to past customers, complementary businesses, or local organizations to get some fans
- Offer a promotional rate to Facebook fans
- Promote your Page in your website, newsletter, and any other place folks interact with your business
- Also promote your Page on invoices, receipts, business cards, etc. — just something simple will do.
- Become a fan of partner and other local businesses
Once your Page is set up and you’ve begun promoting it, be sure to consistently post content…
About your business, including events, rates, successes, customer wins, new partners, photos and videos of offerings, links to your blog postings, etc. If your business sponsors things like the local Little League or the Breast Cancer 3-Day, be sure to highlight that.
About your industry, including links to news articles, blog postings, videos, events and happenings – and your review of them.
About local stuff, including local events and happenings (i.e. the 4th of July Parade), what’s coming up, photos and videos of them, your summary of how they went, etc.
About products or services used before, in conjunction with or after yours, including news article links and links to blog postings, videos, reviews, photos, customer comments and the like.
Also encourage content submission from your Fans, such as…
Q&A with past, upcoming or potential customers.
Customer testimonials describing how great you or your products and services are.
Customer photos or videos of them using your product.
Polls of fans, where you post an open-ended question that encourages engagement and responses
Once your community on Facebook is thriving, always be responsive! Be active in your community. Respond to comments and popular items. Be interactive by using “liking” (the “thumbs-up” feature) and commenting on posts from active community members.
Create a Twitter account for your business if you haven’t already. Simply go to twitter.com and click the “sign up now” button on their homepage. A wizard will guide you through getting the account set-up. When getting set up, enter your own name as the account owner, but use your business name as the Twitter ID (or handle). So, if your business name is Cookie’s Cupcakes, your Twitter handle could be @CookiesCupcakes or @Cookies-Cupcakes or @Cookies_Cupcakes. If someone already has claimed your business name (it happens a lot), try adding your local telephone area code to the end of your business name (@CookiesCupcakes415 — which indicates it’s the Cookie’s Cupcakes in San Francisco… BTW: if there’s an actual business out there with this name, our choice of it is purely coincidental!)
If you have a blog on your company website (and you should!), grab a Twitter widget for your blog so your Twitter stream can be highlighted in the sidebar. Most website developers know how to do this, so ask for help if you need it.
Next up: Get followers!
First, follow Twitter’s suggestions for uploading an address book to see who you already know on Twitter. You’d be surprised just how many people you already know also have Twitter accounts; once Twitter has revealed these folks, follow them. In most instances, they’ll follow you back.
Second, use some of the same techniques for acquiring followers as you did with your Facebook page.
Third, follow Twitter accounts who post content related to your business, accounts of partners and accounts of your followers.
Fourth, promote your @UserName handle the same way you would an 800 number, your fax number or your main business number — including your website, business cards, shopping bags, collateral material, promotions and the like.
Once the basic blocking and tackling is done, you should start posting content:
Link Twitter to your mobile or smart phone (follow the instructions on Twitter). This enables you to quickly and efficiently send tweets out over Twitter on the fly. If you link your Twitter account to your Facebook Page, anything you tweet via Twitter will also show up as new content on your Facebook Page (thereby killing two birds with one stone … er … feeding two birds with one seed … well, you get the picture.)
Tweet early, tweet often! Tweet “Just opened the store and there were customers already waiting to get in!” Or “The Little League team we sponsor just won their game. Woo Hoo!” Or “Just posted about a new offer that I’m really excited about” and then include the URL of the blog post people should go see.
Don’t worry, be happy. Remember that whatever you tweet can’t be retracted, so stay positive. Also, don’t worry too much if you don’t get things exactly right in the early days — you’ll to learn how people use Twitter and what the conventional uses of the medium are soon enough.
If you haven’t already, create a YouTube channel. Simply go to YouTube.com and follow the instruction on the homepage for creating your own channel.
Once your account is created, post videos of product tours, videos of your products in use, tours of your store (if you have one), and the like. Also, post videos of local and industry events. Another great way to use YouTube is by posting customer testimonial videos. Encourage customers to take their own videos. If you use one of the popular, low-cost Flip video cameras (also available in HD), it allows you to automatically upload videos you record to your YouTube channel simply by plugging it into your computer or laptop. If you use a Macintosh computer or MacBook laptop, use the included video editing software to jazz-up your videos with titles, music and transitions (if you have kids, this can be a great project for them and they often figure out how to do it far faster than their parents!)
Put links to join your YouTube channel on your website, newsletter and other touch points. And remember it’s easy to embed video in your blog posts. Be responsive to all comments on your videos. And be sure to promote new video posting through Facebook and Twitter.
If you haven’t already, create a Flickr account. Post photos of you, your products, your staff, pictures of your products in use, and pictures of products used before and after yours (the idea is to show how they fit with yours or what the end result is.) Post photos of local and industry events. As you upload photos, be sure you name them and add tags (they’re like categories) so they can be easily found in searches (for instance, if someone on Flickr is doing a search on “cupcakes” you want Cookie’s Cupcakes to show up in search results, so be sure to name the kind of cupcake you’ve photographed — red velvet, for instance — and tag the photo “cupcake, red velvet”.
Incorporate your Flickr photostream onto your website or blog page. Include links to follow you on Flickr on your website, newsletter and other touch points. And be sure to promote all your new photo content through Facebook and Twitter.
Give your own website a social focus. For instance — and this one’s important — start a blog. And make sure it’s incorporated INTO your website and not part of a blog hosting website with a different domain name than your website’s. Most website developers know how to do this and can help you to get set up. Also, you can decide to build your business’s website on a blog hosting platform such as WordPress, which makes incorporating a blog so much easier. There are many free and low-cost business website templates you can use on WordPress, and there are many website developers who can help you get up and going at a reasonable cost.
Once your blog is up and going, be sure to regularly post to your blog, including product reviews, industry events and news, and local events and news. What are questions you get from customers or what issues do they frequently run in to? Use your blog to address these. Feature videos from your YouTube channel and when you post, insert photos from your Flickr stream — it’s easy to do both and really gives your blog professional flare.
Be sure you also add an RSS feed to your blog — again, WordPress makes this easy and a website development professional can also make this happen for you. Promote all your blog posts via Facebook and Twitter. You can use free applications like TweetDeck or Seesmic to make this simple and efficient for you.
Make sure you’ve established a presence for yourself on sites like Yelp, CitySearch, FourSquare and other social / crowd-sourced sites. Remember that these sites enable your customers to not only find you — as they once did with the Yellow Pages — but to also rate your product or service quality, customer service, responsiveness, and the like. Such sites can drive a great deal of traffic to your business, but can also kill traffic if lots of people indicate they didn’t appreciate their experience with your company. Most companies don’t have anything to worry about — it’s only those companies who fail their customers that get into trouble.
Email out a newsletter to everyone on your email list. Setting up an email newsletter is easy using services like Constant Contact or MailChimp — they include really nice templates you can customize with your own branding and help you to manage all your email lists. And there’s no need to write something from scratch; simply repurpose content you’ve already developed and published on your blog – and include links to popular videos, photos and tweets from other Twitter users that people have found of interest. Make sure there are plenty of links in your email newsletter back to relevant sections of you website.
Sign up for Google Alerts and set alerts for your business name and any competitors you may have. You may also want to set one up for your own name if it is used a lot in conjunction with your business. Google Alerts tells you when you are mentioned in the news, in people’s blog posts or tweets and and enables you to respond to both positive and negative reviews or comments.
Always send a kind word to someone who speaks of you favorably.
For negative reviews or posts, reach out the poster to learn more and find out how you can improve in the future. (Be sure to do this non-defensively and without anger. This is an opportunity to learn from a customer and to grow from negative feedback. Getting into disagreements or fights with customers — particularly online — can lead to much larger negative consequences.)
It will very likely take some effort to build all this up. It might seem awkward at first and feel a bit time-consuming. So take it one step at a time.
Go slow and don’t worry if you feel like you are talking into a black hole for awhile. Continue brainstorming on that rewards system to get an active community in place.
Once you get into the habit of these forms of communication, it will become second nature and the community that you develop will be rewarding to you professionally and to your bottom line.
Next Up — Part 3: Social Media Examples That Work
(Image source: Executionists.com)