For those who are willing to do so, a time investment and a willingness to engage and interact with prospects is all that is needed to get started in social media.
Profiles can be set up in only a few minutes, and many sites offer some simple customization options that will help give your page some added personality. There are a wealth of free tutorials available on-line to help guide you through adding more bells and whistles to your profile pages, should you choose to do so. Facebook, for example, has a large repository of applications that can integrate your existing blog feed, your YouTube videos, and the local weather report, just to name a few. And certainly, for those looking to create a premium presence, many third-party solutions exist not only for profile and landing page creation, but also for backgrounds and banner images.
Social media has leveled the playing field like never before. Today, kitchen-table startups have access to many of the same tools that the “big boys” do – and in many cases, their small size has provided them with a distinct advantage. Being small and agile affords them the ability not only to quickly design and establish a presence, but also to respond to their growing community and provide a genuine “humanity” to their brand. Best of all, they are able to achieve this without any of the obstacles that their corporate counterparts may inevitably encounter along the way.
Once the profiles have been set up on the various social networks, the next course of action is to populate them with relevant, value-added content.
The growing need for content has spawned dozens of third-party providers such as Involver.com, WildfireApp.com and FanAppz.com to meet the increasing need for content, programming, mobile applications and interactive promotions. Similarly, a wide assortment of analytic tools exist that can measure ROI on social media activities, and can track which venues and offers are resonating with users.
Once that content is created, we turn our attention toward finding a way to get it in front of interested prospects and customers. The thought of having to manually post content to multiple profiles across the web is a common concern, particularly among those who generate significant content daily. The good news is that you don’t have to.
Many simple, low-cost and no cost solutions such as TwitterFeed.com, as well as a number of WordPress plugins exist that can automatically feed your most recent blog posts to your Twitter and Facebook profiles. Other options, such as Amplify.com, allow you to post your content once, and have it automatically disseminated to a variety of sites of your choosing – with Facebook.com, Posterous.com, and Twitter.com among them.
Measuring Efforts and Costs
Capitalizing on the many benefits of the social networks does not require boundless marketing budgets or a large, dedicated staff. By focusing your efforts on the top three networks – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – you will be in a position to get in front of your prospective customers and clients alike.
Determining the return on investment (ROI) of your social media marketing efforts is a paramount concern of any brand that is using the platform. The efficacy of your social media efforts can be quantified by looking at any one of a number of metrics, including items such as comments on your blog posts, Facebook “likes” and “shares,” Twitter retweets, social bookmarking and other brand mentions across the web. Website analytics programs offer website owners the ability to track where inbound traffic has come from, and which offers are resulting in the highest conversions.
Monitoring and measuring initiatives can range from tracking simple metrics such as website traffic and promotional-coded offers to setting up custom brand mention alerts through services such as Google Alerts or Social Mention. In this way, tracking ROI is very similar to more traditional marketing methods.
Tracking mentions of your business or brand across the blogosphere and social networks should be considered an integral component of your overall business intelligence. Evaluating these mentions can enable brands to seize opportunities to increase their market share, reinforce their brand reputation, as well as address any potential customer service, delivery or technical issues.
About the Author:
Traci Hayner Vanover, aka The Promo Diva®, is a business consultant and coach that specializes in the unique marketing and promotional needs of small businesses, authors and startups. Drawing on over twenty years of Fortune 500 experience in the fields of marketing research and promotion, Traci’s blog, Propabranda, utilizes pop culture and trends to illustrate business concepts and principles, and blends helpful tips and resources with a healthy dose of humor. Traci is the founder and publisher of Everything Small Business Journal. To connect with Traci, visit her on Facebook or Twitter.