Social media marketing services packages & Tips

When structuring your social media strategy, first decide on a central arm around which your campaign should focus, such as your blog...

social media marketing services packages
When structuring your social media strategy, first decide on a central arm around which your campaign should focus, such as your blog or your website. This central arm will be the place where someone will fulfill a specified call to action that is marketed across all your social media channels. Once you’ve decided on this central arm, you can start piecing together which social media tools you’ll use. Remember that less is more: while literally hundreds of social media tools and channels exist, not all of them will suit your business and your target market. For example, a company targeting a younger demographic may find more success on Facebook than companies targeting high-net-worth individuals. Also, social media take time, so the more channels you engage in, the more resources you’ll use.

Many people think of social media as a “magic bullet” that produces automatic success after they create an account on a social networking site, say, or post one or two updates online. The truth is far less magical; social media campaigns involve time and effort just like any other form of marketing. Of course, if you’re streamlined and using only tools that work for your
business, you’ll have less to manage. No matter what tools you’re using, though, you’ll be able to manage this effort more effectively by designating an internal “social media champion” who will assume ownership of the social media function within your business and act as the day-to-day point person for all communication and administration relating to the campaign. Also, no matter how big or small your social media campaign is, you should be tracking its return on investment. Defining what this return is and what you want to track will depend on the goal of your campaign, whether it’s to drive traffic or generate brand awareness. Once you’ve allowed your statistics to gather data for a significant period of time, you can start rearranging resources to make your campaign more efficient.

No matter what your reasons for running a social media campaign, realize that with the exception of runaway successes like the Queensland Tourism campaign, most campaigns take time to produce results. Even though the “Best Job in the World” campaign saw significant results from social media, it kept this social conversation going long after the competition had ended. And in the end, this should be the ultimate goal of any marketing campaign—not just one that involves social media.

Think of the bigger picture

Social media can be a highly effective way of engaging with your current and future customers, increasing your brand’s exposure, and driving traffic to your site. However, if you think of your social media plan as one aspect of your greater marketing mix, you’ll get even more benefit from your efforts. Do this in the following ways:

• Have one consistent voice: Remember that many current and future customers are exposed to your brand on more than one place online, as well as offline, so don’t confuse them with different messaging on each channel. Whether you’re using only a website and a blog, or you’re using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well, keep the contents of your message and the way you deliver it consistent across all channels. Doing so creates more coherent brand messaging, which can be more effective in converting a site visitor into a customer.

• Decide on your goal and a central aim: Is it to drive more traffic to your blog, or is it to make more people buy products off your website? Once you have your overall goal, delegate one central focus for your strategy and then use separate channels to drive traffic there. For example, if your aim is to drive traffic to your blog, use Twitter, Digg, and Delicious to advertise your blog posts. Or your goal could be to drive traffic to your website by encouraging visitors to access articles, white papers, or tools on your site and then to buy your products and services. In this case, link to the resource section of your website from your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels.

• Don’t forget your offline messaging: More traditional forms of marketing within your business can be an excellent way of driving traffic to your social media sites and other channels. For example, include your blog and website addresses in promotional material such as brochures and business cards. Include your website address, along with your Twitter and Facebook URLs, in presentations you give.

Use less rather than more

With so many social media tools available, the choice of which ones to use can be overwhelming, and many people feel pressured to use as many as they can. But, in fact, the success of your social media campaign depends less on how many diff erent kinds of social media you use than on how effectively you use each one as part of one coherent strategy. There are two
main steps toward achieving this:

1. Know your business’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you’re a business that doesn’t use any kind of professional imaging in your product offering (for example, if you’re tax consultant), you wouldn’t choose to use Flickr and engage with its community of photography enthusiasts. On the other hand, if you publish regular research and how-to documents, you could connect much more effectively with your target market by contributing to Yahoo! Answers and a niche finance wiki or holding Meetups where you provide workshops about, for example, organizing your tax structure as a small business.

2. Know your target market. By knowing where your target market engages online, you’ll better be able to choose which social media tactics will be more effective. For example, if you’re targeting upper-level executives, you’re likely to have more success on sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo than on sites like MySpace that have a younger user demographic.

Engaging properly with a social media channel requires a time commitment, so the more tools you use, the more time you’ll spend managing those separate campaigns and engaging with each separate audience. And letting this interaction slide can be bad for your brand’s perception: for example, if you don’t follow up with a customer comment or question on Facebook due to lack of time, that customer could see your business as one that doesn’t respond to its customers, which could result in the customer’s moving to another competitor to get the desired product or service. As always, you should measure the returns of any social media tools you use so that you can see which ones give you real returns.

Appoint a social media champion

Having a social media champion within your organization can heavily impact the success of your business’s social media campaign. Whether this champion is you or someone you delegate, the individual should take ownership of the day-to-day running of the social media campaign, both externally in terms of engaging with customers and internally in terms of getting other
employees in the business on board with the campaign. Having a champion is also a good way of ensuring constant monitoring of your brand’s reputation, so that swift action can be taken where necessary (for example, in the case of a negative review on a reviews website). Overall, a social media champion’s main duties should include:

• Engaging regularly: The champion should ensure that there is regular activity by your business on whatever social media channels it’s using. For example, a champion would ensure that content is regularly added to your company’s Facebook page, and that updates are posted to Twitter each day.

• Selling internally: A social media champion can help sell the idea of a social media campaign internally, such as by publicizing successes on an internal blog or by giving presentations that contain examples of the strategy in action and what effect it’s having on the company as a whole. The champion should also be responsible for tracking the impact your social media efforts have had on the business, such as an increase in traffic to the company’s website as a result of using Twitter to market it

• Coordinating employees’ personal social media activities: Nowadays most employees engage with social media on some level personally, for example via a Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace page, a personal blog, or a Flickr account. A social media champion can coordinate this independent activity by integrating the social activity of the business and the employee: in this way, you can spread the word about your brand throughout those employees’ own circles of influence. For example, if you’ve uploaded new content to your Facebook page, you could ask employees to mention it on their own Facebook accounts. Or, if you post articles on Digg, you could ask your employees to vote for articles you’ve posted.

Track the effect

No matter how large or small your social media campaign is, you should be monitoring its return on investment to your business. What you should track depends on your goals for your social media campaign—driving traffic, converting visitors to customers, or encouraging your site contents to be shared by others, among others.

To track a social media campaign effectively, you should already have an analytics package (for example, Google Analytics or Omniture SiteCatalyst) interfacing with your website to give you information such as site traffic trends, referral origins, and click paths of your visitors through your site. When it comes to social media efforts on your site, most website analytics packages will let you create campaigns that isolate referral traffic to a specific domain. For example, you could create a campaign that tracks which visitors are coming from MySpace, Facebook, or your own blog. If you’re already using Google Analytics, you can install the “Better Google Analytics” extension for the Firefox browser that gives you social media metrics within the Analytics interface.

Besides using your site analytics to track your campaigns, several tools specifically track social media campaigns. Some examples are:
• For Twitter, Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) shows statistics associated with your Twitter account, such as the number of users who clicked on a link within a tweet. SocialToo (www.socialtoo.com) tracks who follows and unfollows you on Twitter, TweetStats (www.tweetstats.com) provides graphs of Twitter stats such as your tweets over time and reply statistics, and Twittercounter (www.twittercounter.com) shows you statistics of followers and whom you’re following, plus your tweets over time.

• If you’re using social bookmarking as part of your campaign and want to track how others are sharing your article, tools like PostRank (https://analytics.postrank.com) track bookmarks of your content on Digg and StumbleUpon (as well as shares on Twitter).

• If you’re using Facebook Advertising, Facebook Insights contains built-in statistics that can tell you the performance of your ads if you’re using Facebook Advertising (for more on Facebook Insights, see Tip 95).

• Along with paid tools like Radian6 (www.radian6.com), free tools like Addictomatic (www.addictomatic.com) let you monitor your brand across blogs, forums, social networking sites, and more.

• Finally, for quick and free monitoring, Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) e-mails you new content picked up by Google that relates to keywords you want to track, such as your brand name.

Take action

A crucial part of your social media campaign’s success is taking action and tweaking your campaign in response to knowing what’s giving you a return on your investment and what isn’t. To find out what’s working for you, you’ll need to know your campaign goal (e.g., to drive traffic to your website), and you should be using website analytics or another specialized tool to track how your campaign elements are fulfilling this goal (for more on tracking). Once these are in place, you should allow a period of time for your analytics package to gather data. Then, when you have enough data to make a sound analysis, compare your social media efforts side by side to see which is performing better and make changes based on these learnings. For example, if your Facebook account is resulting in a large amount of traffic, but your MySpace account isn’t, you may decide to devote more time to Facebook and less time to managing your MySpace community. Similarly, if you fi nd that your YouTube videos aren’t resulting in the traffic or customers you thought they would, you may want to try running video campaigns on
other video sharing sites such as Viddler or Yahoo! Video.

Knowing your target demographic may help you initially identify which social media sites are likely to perform better than others—for example, Plaxo rather than MySpace if your demographic is older. Above all, you should invest time in social media that provide a real benefit to your business, and this means accepting that some social media tactics will work better than others, because no two businesses are alike. There are also other reasons it’s better to use fewer tools than too many.

Keep going

Although the tools used to implement a social media campaign may be newer and shiner, using social media is just like any other form of marketing in several key ways:

• A social media campaign requires a strategy and a goal.
• A successful campaign needs to use channels that are appropriate for your business and your target market.
• A social media campaign takes time to show results.

Since implementing a social media campaign can be as simple as signing up for a Twitter account in just a couple of minutes, some businesses believe the campaign should yield results just as quickly. In reality, the basic principle of social media is to connect with your target audience on a shared platform and then give them a reason to keep engaging with you. Doing
this takes time. For example, providing useful resources to the point where you become known as an expert in your industry, resulting in more people visiting your website or reading your blog, takes time. If you persevere, the rewards are worth your persistence—people are given more of an opportunity to learn more about your brand and develop a positive sentiment about
it. In turn they are more likely to become your customers by visiting your website and buying your product or service.

The easiest way to make sure you persevere with your social media campaign is to build it into your daily work tasks. For example, you or your social media champion (for more on this, see Tip 3) could spend a set amount of time each day or every couple of days to tend to the campaign. This could mean responding to questions, participating in conversations, uploading content to your blog and other social media profiles, or commenting on other content provided by those in your industry. Spending regular time on your social media campaign also helps you monitor your brand’s reputation online and stay up on news relating to both your industry and your business.

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