Kudos to all the companies who have utilised social media as part of their search engine marketing strategy in 2009, but since 2010 is around the corner; it is a good time to see what can be done better in 2010. There are many opportunities and so much could be done that the list is endless, but here I have tried to select the 10 lowest hanging fruits. Nothing is absolute, and we all know that what works for some doesnâ€™t for others. But hopefully these points are generic enough for everyone to take advantage of.
1. Spend more traditional ad budget on customer service
Most of the problems could be diffused easily if companies would simply treat customers as they should. In todayâ€™s social life activities, word of mouth travels far and can truly influence users across the globe.
The research found that an overwhelming majority of companies (86%) surveyed plan to spend more money on social media in 2010, and a further 13% are planning to keep the same level of budget. Here is a social media research report that provides detailed information about how companies are using online PR tactics and social media sites – including Facebook and Twitter – in their search engine marketing benefit.
By supplementing your products with excellent support and a pleasant experience, you will create brand advocates that will help, rather than hurt you. In a McKinsey report, 67% of consumer sales are directly influenced by WOM (PDF), and the best form of reputation management does not need to manage your reputation at all. Social media impact will result with happy customers.
2. Implement robust policies for social media
A majority of companies have been engaged in social media activities on an as required basis, without a plan and long term goals. What we need to do is to put together a list of goals and then work to find a strategy that will work to accomplish them. Donâ€™t just Tweet because you saw it on Bloomberg, and certainly donâ€™t make a Facebook page because your competitor did. Come up with a list of goals and a strategy to achieve them. Tactics and strategies are crucial in social media, as Sun Tzu eloquently stated: â€œStrategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.â€
3. Provide proper training to staff
4. Track to measure success
One of the toughest aspects of Social Media Marketing is tracking the conversations that are occurring â€˜deep inside the information cloudâ€™. Research and find a solution that will help you and your company achieve your social media goals. Some of these can be found in my earlier post.There are a number of good tracking systems on the market, the trick is to test drive them and see what will work for you. In addition to tracking mentions, tracking broad keywords and engaging customer who are looking for help can be a very profitable portion of your social media marketing campaign.
5. Protect your image by protecting your brand name
If you have a trademarked term, you can almost always stop name squatters from hijacking your brand name, but why wait for that to happen? There are services that allow you to reserve usernames across hundreds of sites and prevent those from stealing your brand. Come to us and we can help you in setting up these preventive measures; it doesnâ€™t take a lot of money, so take action out there and protect your brand.
6. Customise your social network pages
Use your social media profiles as extensions of your brand and of your website. Take the time to make custom backgrounds for Twitter or create rich Facebook tabs that support your current marketing initiatives. Just because your profile isnâ€™t on your site, doesnâ€™t mean that you shouldnâ€™t spend money trying to make it look good.
7. Advertise your social profiles to promote yourself
Many times, simply slapping a social media badge in your footer is simply not enough. Although one of the hardest things to justify in Internet marketing is spending money without sending visitors to your website, you have to understand that much like investing in design and development for social profiles, you should be securing budget for advertising on social media sites as well. For example, advertising Facebook pages is a quick and easy way to let targeted users know that you are participating in the conversation. While you may be able to leverage your site to gain some loyal fans/followers (see above), spending money for exposure to targeted audiences could be much more profitable in the long run.
8. Reward loyal fans and â€˜Call to actionâ€™ to get new fans
By offering fans items that are exclusive to the social audience, you can â€˜demonstrate valueâ€™ and make them feel good about following you. Not only would they get an exclusive deal/song/download/game, they also get the feeling that they are getting a special connection that not everyone has. â€˜If you build it, they will comeâ€™ doesnâ€™t work in social media, or online in general. You should give users a reason to follow you and become a fan. Whether it is sweepstakes, breaking news, giveaways, sales or company updates, you should offer users something beneficial in exchange for their loyalty.
9. Reach out to more social network sites
While Twitter and Facebook are making the biggest splash on the news scene, there are hundreds more social sites out there â€“ many of which can help you achieve company goals. Look into other social media outlets that you may not be currently engaged in. From social news sites like Digg to social book marking sites like the new StumbleUpon to smaller niche social media sites, there are many outlets that could work for you, so give them a try!
10. Donâ€™t neglect your main website
While all of the above points speak mainly of tactics that work off of your site, one of the biggest things to remember is that you can be social on your site. Things like blogs and forums were the original social media, so make sure to maintain and cultivate them and create good content that will perform well in social media. At the end of the day, your site is your ultimate sales tool, so take care of it! Where applicable try to bring social media in with things like Facebook Connect or Digg or Twitterâ€™s API to harness the benefits of these sites on your own.
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