Social media in essence is about engagement through sharing, which for business means targeting your product range, your articles, or your services at engaging a potential customer or client base. Collectively, products, services and articles are known as content, and it is through offering quality content that success through your channels can be achieved. Social media has around 900 million users globally, and covers every topic range you can think of. As well as engaging a potential customer and client base or readership, social media is also relevant to search engine optimization. Social media is a unique format as it helps you promote your content directly to your audience, and in turn it generates traffic via people sharing your content with others, and through SEO. Perhaps more importantly than this, however, social media with its online reviews helps a business build trust, and nearly every brand you can think of uses social media for this reason. Consider this: you come across two companies offering the same services; one has 250 Facebook likes, the other 43 – which one would you opt for? So regardless of whether you’re an online retailer, an affiliate marketer, offer a service such as tuition, or run a news site, social media can help you build your business online. Google estimates that by 2015, UK consumers will have purchased £40bn of products and services online.
Popular Social Media Sites And Their Uses
Getting to get grips with the nuances of social media’s role in promoting your business can cause more than its fair share of headaches. Here is a list of the most popular social media sites and their uses:
- Facebook is predominately for sharing. This can be products, articles, or services. In a nutshell, it’s for sharing your content with as many people as possible.
- Twitter is about sharing news on any subject. Don’t let the word news make you feel it does not apply for products. New product launches, new stock ready to be sold – Twitter is good for all of this.
- Google+ is in part a combination of the two and has become important for search engine optimization if nothing else.
- Blogging is a great way to impart news and expertise to your readership, customer and client base, or followers. It offers a good way to attract visitors on your site via search engines.
- YouTube is about showcasing videos to a wide audience. It is being utilised by businesses all the time to sell products and services. As YouTube is owned by Google, videos tend to feature prominently on search engine results. You can also utilise the YouTube ads to make a secondary income stream.
- Pinterest and other bookmarking sites are very good at showcasing visual products. If your business is selling something online, albeit a product or service, ensure you are posting on Pinterest and as many bookmarking sites you can find.
Social Media And Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Good positioning on search engines is about unique quality content that is well shared and well linked to from other websites. By sharing your content on social sites, the more chance there is of people liking it on Facebook, retweeting on Twitter, or sharing the pin on Pinterest. Links are important for good SEO and posting your content on social sites provides a link from the social site to yours, and in every case this can be targeted to a specific web page. By web page I mean a specific product, service, or article. This also ensures Google indexes the web page. That is to say, it adds it to its database, ensuring it can be found on search engines.
Finding The Best Social Media Sites For Your Business
To find the best social sites suited to your business, think about what your business is trying to do. If your business sells products or services, then use social sites that showcase pictures and videos to sell the product. YouTube, Pinterest, Delicious and Instagram are all really good for showcasing products. If you’re in the selling game, make videos of your products, take good professional photos and get them on these sites, and ensure you link the pictures and videos directly to the content on your site. If you sell on eBay or an affiliate seller, try to link directly to the product page where a potential customer can buy it. Also, put the products on your Facebook page, Google+ page, and Twitter. For service providers, a slightly different spin on social media promotion is needed as, more often than not, a service provider will sit in the middle of visual social media, and text-based social sites. This also applies to affiliate marketers. If you can, represent your services with a picture or icon, and publish the picture or icon on the visual sites. Use videos to showcase your services – if you can get testimonials from clients, well, that’s gold dust. Publish regularly on your blog and tweet the articles, together with insights into the industry. This engagement will help build trust with your existing clients, showcase your skills, and help you to be found by people wishing to become new clients.
Social Media Advertising
If you have the budget for it, Facebook offers advertising on a click-through basis like Google AdSense, or it can be used to earn likes. It is often a case of experimentation. For affiliate marketing revenue streams, click-throughs will expose the user to your revenue stream, while a like will ensure every time an article or new product is published they’ll be informed. It’s trial and error and seems to work well for some businesses, but others have lost faith in it.
By now, you have probably guessed that updating social sites, especially if you publish a lot of daily content, is hard work. Larger businesses employ people to keep on top of it, something many start-up business don’t have the budget or the time for. It is possible to automate your social accounts updating using automatic syndication sites.
A Social Media Strategy
Step 1: Create a Facebook Page, Twitter account and Google+ Page For Business
These have their uses regardless of the type of business, and all help considerably with SEO. Ensure you create business pages on Facebook and Google+. This keeps your personal details and indeed social media life hidden from your customers or clients, and it offers better options to promote a business.
Step 2: Identify Social Media Sites That Are The Most Important To Your Business
If your site sells products, make a list of all the online bookmarking and video sites you can find and create accounts. Ensure you use Pinterest and YouTube. If your business is for services, information, or is for an affiliate marketing revenue stream, you want to spread the word in as many ways as possible. Use blogging sites such as Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress.org to syndicate your blog posts and services, and try to create news content if you provide services to show your expertise in your field.
Step 3: Use Social Media Tools Such As ‘If This Then That’
‘If this then that’ or ifttt.com automatically updates your social accounts. This is easy to establish and works by syndicating the information across a host of social sites automatically as soon as one site is updated. This, as you can imagine, saves a lot of time. Be cautions, however, and ensure social sites suited to the business, such as bookmarking sites for online retailers, appear just as you want them to be found. Automatic syndication has limitations and often links and pictures do not appear as you would like them to. Nonetheless, and especially for syndicating blog posts via an RSS feed, it is a very good time-saver for promoting your business via social media. Not all social media can be syndicated in this way, but the sites that ifttt.com syndicates to are well worth creating accounts on to promote your business. The more social media sites you post on, the better.
Step 4: Use #hashtags
Whenever you post your content, ensure you use accurate #hashtags. This will help users find your content when they search for it. So if I’m selling tyres on ebay, #tyres, #cartyres, #car, #tyres is good, and for sports news, #sportsnews, #football #cricket, and so on is good.
Step 5: Once It Starts
Once your content starts hitting the social media world, monitor your accounts for feedback. Concentrate on the sites you’ve identified as important to your business and respond to questions and comments. When responding, try to be helpful and non-abusive, even if the commentator is not pleasant. Professionalism goes along way.
Step 6: Participation
Twitter and Google+ show trending topics and these are popular subjects people are discussing. It is worth performing the odd Twitter search to see what people are talking about in relation to your business, and making a contribution to the discussion. This is a good way to make connections and hopefully achieve more success.
Step 7: Monitoring Success
Monitoring success has proven to be quite difficult for social media. Unlike SEO results, which can be measured on click-throughs and content engagement, it is not so simple on social sites for a variety of reasons. You may feel if you provide news that 10 comments on one story is a good sign of success, while 100 likes of a product video on YouTube with no obvious link to sales may not be immediately obvious as positive. It is worth remembering, however, that though people may not directly access your main site via social sites, it may prompt them to return later. Always keep in mind that social media is for sharing content, so any like, comment or retweet is positive.