Best Practices: Get Going With Social Media

Marketing through social media can be a cost-effective way to build your brand. Keeping feeds and pages updated however, can be all-consuming in an age when so many demands are made on your valuable time. Not every business is ready to dip into the social media marketplace. Still, if you’re ready to take the plunge, here are three things you need to know.

Develop a plan. By developing a plan first, you’ll be ready to handle things as they come up. Your plan will serve as a guide for dealing with common occurrences and the unexpected. In it you should identify your target audience and outline the different social media outlets they’re likely to frequent. Think outside the box—don’t just stick with the basics, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Look into such sites as StumbleUpon, deviantART, Pinterest, Tumblr, Soundcloud, and Goodreads.  There you will find niche communities, and engagement there may well drive more responsive visitors to your site or blog. Your plan should also identify the person or persons who are responsible for updates and content generation. If you’re a small business, that person might be you; if your company is larger, perhaps it’s a marketing or public relations person. Finally, the plan should outline things like the number of posts per day/week, the time within which a query or negative mention is responded to, and so on.

Implement the plan. So you’ve set up your Facebook page and your Twitter account. And perhaps you’re on Pinterest. Now it’s time to start blogging. In order for a blog to be effective, you need to be posting content that is fresh and relevant—and you need to post frequently so that search engines will find you. Be sure to provide a way for readers to comment, as this will engage your audience and keep them coming back. Another way to engage your target audience is through online video. How-to videos are some of the most frequently searched videos on YouTube, so consider creating short, informative clips showing your audience how to use your products and posting them online.

Monitor the plan. You will need to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts just as you would any of your other marketing efforts. There are a number of ways to do this. It may be as simple as tracking Facebook likes, retweets, repins on Pinterest, or comments on your blog. You may also want to track visitors to your site with Google Analytics, which will help you determine which social media sites are generating the most traffic for you and what kinds of posts and keywords are more successful for you, all of which will help you allocate future social media resources. You may even take a more sophisticated approach and seek to determine which posts convert into actual sales or new contacts. Whatever you decide to track, it’s important that you develop tools for measuring your success.