Friday, 20 July 2012

Social Media Networking Strategy: Keys to Success

Let’s face it, social media is now an integral part of not just our personal live, but also our professional lives. Bloggers have started using social mediums for promoting their blogs, and for promoting and marketing their content. Social mediums like Facebook and Twitter give you an edge in creating and promoting your online presence and connecting with your audience and potential clientele/consumers.

People have started selling and marketing their products and services on social media.

Marketers have realized the potential of social media, and are now leveraging its power to build brands, attract more consumers and generate more sales. Research conducted by the firm Buddy Media shows that Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are always considered when developing a marketing strategy, particularly in larger organizations.

And it is easy to see why. Social media is cheap, very accessible, and presents marketers with an enormous opportunity in terms of access to a large demographic and the ability to influence a large number of people. For instance Facebook has (almost) a billion users – that’s 1/7th of the whole world’s population! Which means that with a single status update, you could be potentially reaching out to millions.

Here is a set of things that should be a part of every social media strategy:

1. Know your audience: The first step towards building a strong online presence is actually knowing who you’ll be reaching out to. This includes familiarity with your audience, and understanding their habits and interests. It is also important to determine what demographics (age, sex, location, income, profession, etc) your audience belongs to, as this will allow you to tailor your content accordingly.

Example: A Facebook page aimed at promoting an NFL Betting website would need to target people that fit into the correct demographic – professional males in North America, making a specific amount of money. It’s all marketing research.

2. Regular updates: Be regular with your updates. People need to know that you are alive, and in a world where there is plenty of information at one’s disposal (information overload even), it is important to be able to remind people that you still very much exist.

Example: ESPN’s Facebook pages sends out an update at least once-a-day, usually the day’s biggest story. Similarly, IKEA’s page regularly shares pictures of its furniture on a regular basis. Most newspapers and TV channels share breaking news on their Facebook pages, which could be related to entertainment, politics, sports or other categories.

3. Be interesting: The key to good updates and the ability to really engage your audience is being interesting. Avoid sending out boring or generic updates or tweets – send something that’s actually worth reading, and would be valuable to the group of people you are targeting.

Example: Create and share infographics. Ask your fans what’s going on in their lives, or who they would like to see host next year’s Oscars, or whose performance they think stood out in the new Batman movie.

4. Be unique: An easier approach to take would be rehashing content from other sources and essentially re-sharing what other publishers are putting up. Instead, the most successful social media marketers are those who share original content. Put some thought into creating your own content

Example: If you run a page on humor, internet memes (such as Bad Luck Brian, LOL Cats, etc.) seem to be doing pretty well right now. Try sharing images and videos that would awe your audience. Think outside the box, such as that Old Spice commercial.

5. Offer something in return: The biggest gains that can be had through social media marketing is when you, as a marketer, offer something in return. Focus on passing on the benefits to your fans and followers, instead of what you can get is the right approach here.

Example: One of the best ways to do this is doing giveaways and/or offer discounts on your products/services – perhaps doing something like a Facebook-exclusive giveaway will enhance social engagement. Alternatively, use your online presence to offer advice, tips, and DIYs.

6. Keep all communication short and to the point. Because let’s be honest, no one has the time to listen to or read long stories – people hate having their time wasted, and lead busy lives. On the other hand, concise and to-the-point communication – such as tweets, status updates, or messages through images or videos – will give you a better chance of being read, and people will be more like to retweet, like, share, and +1 such updates and help you spread the word.

Example: This is pretty easy to do on Twitter as you’re restricted to 160 characters per tweet. While I don’t have a specific example on how to be precise on Facebook, I generally recommend keeping your updates short, and using as less words as possible to get your message across, because ‘posts that are less than 80 characters create 27 percent more engagement’ according to a study by Buddy Media.

7. Day and time of updates: According to the same study, the day and time that an update is sent out during the day has a large influence on its engagement. Posts sent out early in the morning, at the end of the day or late at night had 20% more engagement. Similarly, posts on Sundays and during midweek (Wednesdays and Thursdays) seem to be the most popular.

Example: Fairly obvious. Send out your updates on the aforementioned days and during the said times so that they yield the most returns in terms of engagement. Maximize your post frequency and output during these times.

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