Make 2014 The Year Of ‘Engagement’.

Well, it’s that time of year again. New Year – the time of year when everyone is full of the best intentions: the time of year when all is bright and shiny.

So what are you planning for your business this year? What strategies and campaigns are you thinking about running with? Well, if there’s one resolution you should perhaps consider taking into this new business year it’s this: don’t concentrate too much of advertising and marketing – focus all your attention on engaging. It might sound like the ultimate cliché, but social media is where it’s at right now, and the key to getting the very best out of the medium is engagement.

The clue’s in the title. It’s called ‘social’ for a good reason.

It’s where you engage, inspire and influence members of your community. Done properly social media marketing will tick every box. It doesn’t matter whether your business is a one-man operation or a big-time player; if you have a carefully-considered and planned social media strategy you’ll be able to maximise your brand and expand into new uncharted markets. The beauty of it all is that it’s your followers who’ll spread the good word for you. They’ll be your brand advocates. So, what sort of social media strategies should you employ in 2014? Well, here are a few tips and pointers to get the New Year off to a flying start.

Be visible across all social media networks.

There are only 2 social media networks that really matter – Facebook and Twitter, right? Wrong. Other networks are available and can be a boon to your business. LinkedIn and Google+ can also be useful for businesses too. The important thing to remember is that all publicity is good publicity where social media marketing is concerned. What businesses should do is use every available and useful channel to promote their brands. That doesn’t just apply to the networks either: directories and professional association networks can also provide valuable publicity and provide great backlinks for companies. Not only do these enhance your business’ credibility, but they will also help to consolidate or improve your search engine rankings too.

Plan ahead and set goals.

If your business wants to use the social media for promotion, then you’ll need a carefully planned strategy to help your business capitalise on the extra publicity. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts might be clever, but they won’t look after themselves. It doesn’t matter whether you business intention is to help your existing customers and provide advice and information, or drive sales and expand the business: you’ll still need a structured plan that sets out what you want to achieve and the mechanism by which you intend to accomplish this. Once you have devised a plan, then it’s important that you devote sufficient resources to it. After all, the more you put into the process, the more likely you are to get something out of it.

Measure your social media marketing efforts.

The purpose of a social media marketing strategy is to drive new visitors to your website and increase your company’s influence in your particular market sector. The only way you’ll be able to tell if your efforts are working is by measuring the effectiveness of your strategy. You’ll want to know how many new visitors your website attracted, where they came from and whether their visit led to a sale. Now, there are all sorts of applications available to help you measure these numbers, but two of the best are undoubtedly Google Analytics and Hootsuite. These free applications will tell businesses how many visitors came to the website from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. What’s more you can now get these figures with real-time tracking.

However, what Google and Hootsuite’s application won’t tell you is which social media campaigns drove the visitors to your website. For that sort of information you’ll need to use an application like Klout. This free app will tell you how effective your marketing efforts have been and also suggest some basic ways in which you might improve your marketing efforts. Of course if you have the budget available, there are other applications like SayitSocial, SocialVolt and Adobe SocialAnalytics that will provide considerably more information, but this won’t necessarily come cheap.

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