Start 2012 With A Targeted And Carefully Planned Social Media Marketing Strategy.

So, here we go again. Another year and a fresh chance to get your business message across to a whole new audience.

But it’s all well and good saying that this year things will be better than last: the problem businesses face is not only growing competition, but also the continuing recession. Any business that wants to improve and consolidate its influence in a particular sector of the market really needs to focus on strategy. That’s particularly true with social media marketing. It doesn’t matter whether the business concerned is a one-man operation, or a big-time player: every business need a carefully-considered and planned social media strategy if they are to maximise their brand and expand into new uncharted markets.

So, how should a business go about this?

What sort of social media strategies should they employ? Well, hopefully this article will give you a few tips and pointers to get the New Year off to a flying start.

search or social

Make sure your business is visible across all social media networks.

If you were to believe all you read in the press, then there are only 2 social media networks that truly matter – Facebook and Twitter. This is actually short-sighted because there are other networks available as the BBC would say. LinkedIn and Google+ can also be useful for businesses. 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, bit it will also help to consolidate or improve your search engine rankings too.

Plan ahead and set your business goals.

If your business wants to use the social media for promotion, then you need to plan carefully and put a strategy in place that will help your company capitalise on the extra publicity. There’s little point going into this arena with some half-baked notion that if you dabble with the social media then it will somehow look after itself. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn don’t work like that. 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. Now that may seem foolish in an era of cuts backs, but fair heart never won fair maiden. It’s simply a matter of speculating to accumulate: the more you put into the process, the more likely you are to get something out of it.

Make sure you measure the results of 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 worthwhile, is by measuring the effectiveness of any given 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 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.

Use your social media marketing resources carefully and wisely.

It’s important to remember that social media marketing is a specialised skill; just because an employee is a great sales person or a fantastic lead generator, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be as skilful when it comes to making the social media work for you. If time is at a premium, or your staff don’t have the necessary expertise, then it’s often better to outsource the majority of social media work to a specialised consultant with proven credentials in the field. It’s also vital that once your campaign is up and running that your business ensures that all of its social media links are incorporated not just to the website but to all the printed materials that your company send out, be that business cards, letters or brochures. If you’ve made the effort to start a social media campaign, then it’s essential that you let all your customers know about it.

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