Social Media Marketing

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The dramatic shift in the media landscape is creating exciting new opportunities in Social Media Marketing: new ways of getting the word out to your customers and prospects via the Internet. In 2008, for the first time, more people got their news from the Internet than from newspapers. In 2009, 90% of consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trusted consumer opinions posted online.

While not great for newspapers or television, these social media marketing trends establish outstanding new opportunities for marketers. Today, anyone armed with the proper tools and knowledge can spread the word around the world in an instant—on a blog, a news website, on YouTube, Twitter—or any of the thousands of social networking and discussion communities springing up around common interests. Factor in the tremendous growth of mobile devices, and your business now has the potential for online marketing with global reach.

Social networking and online social media tools have given us many more methods of improving the rank of web pages in search results and bringing customers to your web site. If you’re not taking advantage of these new Internet technologies, you’re doing a disservice to both your customers and your business.

Much of the same information and social networking opportunities are now available on mobile devices, and this in turn has accelerated adoption and use of new technologies and methods of communication. The more you and your business are plugged into these networks, the easier it is for customers both to find you and to share information about you. Businesses today know that they need more than just a website to be competitive. Having a presence on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is a necessity as well.

But social media marketing is not just about creating profiles, it’s a tool to create ongoing conversations with your customers, and a chance to turn a difficult customer service issue into a win for your business. Knowing how and where to find discussion of your business is critical. Bad news travels infinitely faster than good. It’s up to you to stay on top of how your brand is being perceived online, and to shape that dialogue. Internet marketing in general, and social media marketing in particular, are not about broadcasting to listeners, they are about engaging with people who have the ability to reach thousands more instantly.

As an added bonus, social media is vastly cheaper than older forms of brand management and marketing. Replacing an outdated and pricey newspaper or direct mail campaign with online media will allow you to develop tightly-focused sales content in less time and at less expense.

The explosive growth of blogging and other forms of “Web 2.0” social media presents a significant opportunity for organizations to market themselves and strengthen connections with clients and associates. Early adopters can still gain a real advantage over the competition.

Eight Principles of Social Media Marketing

The more people use social media, the more the lines between marketing, public relations and customer service continue to blur. Here are eight principles you can use to achieve success in all these areas.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Find the places online where groups of people with similar interests and goals are congregating. Choose groups to join based on your brand.

2. Create Your Presence

Target all the main social networking sites, reserve your name, and start building profiles. Having your brand out there increases your credibility and connects you with as many people as possible.

3. Make Your Business’s Social Media Content “Sticky”

Give clients and new searchers a reason to keep returning to your site by providing engaging material, fresh blog posts, resources and other information. Take the opportunity to build lasting relationships with potential clients. Make sure the navigation on your web site or blog is easy to use, with a pleasing design. Let us know if we can help. Great design does not have to be expensive, and it will pay for itself quickly.

4. Listen to Your Customers

Encourage user interaction. Every post made about your business online is a chance to engage a customer. The benefits of monitoring discussion communities and social networking sites for opportunities to promote and maintain your brand are clear. There are free tools to help you do so on a limited scale. This is a good place to start. Larger businesses can avail themselves of more robust social media monitoring tools like Radian6 and Visible Technologies’ truCAST.

5. Be Available and Helpful

Answer questions related to your field on sites like LinkedIn or on your blog. Smart, thoughtful responses will build brand awareness, helping potential clients recall your name when they or someone they know requires your services.

6. Track Discussion of Your Business

Social media monitoring services and free tools will return every mention of your company, allowing you to track in real-time any hot spots that need to be managed. Effective brand reputation management is invaluable in this lightning-quick age of wireless and Internet-based communication. Remember that negative reviews are not necessarily a bad thing. Studies show that online discussions that include negative comments are seen as more reliable for their authenticity.

7. Have a Crisis Management Plan

Don’t wait until you are attacked by an irate blogger to try to come up with the best response. Be ready to address any potential negative scenarios involving your brand. Used correctly, social media can alert you to any potential problems brewing around your brand. Use the real-time speed of the Internet to address these situations and turn them around to both your advantage, and that of your clientele.

8. Watch as Increased Linking Improves Your Search Ranking

Improved Search Engine Optimization is one more reason to take social media marketing seriously. Traffic begets traffic: the more people are talking about your business, the more meaningful, productive links you will receive. Links won through social media are money in the bank, as they will immediately improve your search engine results.

Don’t just jump into the deep end of Web 2.0 technology without first determining exactly whom you want to reach and why. McBuzz helps you to understand the people you want to connect with – and your objectives – before creating an online marketing strategy and choosing the best tools to implement that strategy.

Once you have a well-designed, easy-to-find website to serve as a destination for your customers and prospects online, McBuzz will help you plan and manage your online reputation and more effectively target new customers using social media.

Learn why social media marketing is critical to forming an effective long-term Internet marketing strategy. Call Seattle-based McBuzz Communications now for 30 minutes of free consultation to identify your goals for social media. Marketing consultation: (206) 962-9119