By Jeff Desmond
Social media have leveled the marketing playing field. Your small business can now stand next to giants. As the popularity of sites like Facebook and Twitter continue to grow, use it to your advantage.
With social media, you can: find fans, start a grass roots campaign, connect with the brand evangelists that can't stop talking about how great your product or service is and want to help spread the word, and drive more traffic to your website.
The SEO Benefits of Social Media
Google's social search is carrying more weight than ever and is affecting search results. The idea behind social search is to get the input of your friends, rather than anonymous websites. When you are logged in, it will consider your personal connections and incorporate them into the results of a normal web search. The affect on your business: if someone is connected to your business, your pages and shared content will rank higher on the search results page.
Google's efforts are to return the most relevant search results, and what's more relevant than your personal connections? In essence they have opted in and voted to say, "I like this company, so tell me what they think."
To maximize the benefits, you need to be active. Use your social media accounts as a channel for updates, bonus information and to promote articles on your website that show your industry expertise. Do your best to provide information that your followers will want to click on and engage in, be informative or entertaining, but drop the sales pitch.
What's the Cost?
Without a question, the biggest non-monetary cost will be your time. To be effective and to grow your online community you should engage with your followers and start conversations. To do this you will have to devote time.
While sites like Facebook and Twitter are free to join, there are monetary costs you will need to consider.
Should you pay for content or write it yourself? If your social media strategy includes content marketing (creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases), then you know how valuable fresh blog posts and articles are. If you do not have the time or resources to write all of the information yourself, there are custom content services and freelancers available to help, for a fee.
Buying Facebook ads will drive viewers from Facebook to your site and/or increase the popularity of your Facebook Fan Page.
Contests, Discounts and Events
- Hold contests for your Twitter followers or Facebook fans. Encourage more people to connect with you for the chance to win.
- Offer your followers discounts or special "pre-sale" opportunities.
- Whether you are attending an event or promoting your own, be sure to get the word out to your online communities before, during and after the event.