How To Use Social Media Marketing To Get Results In Your Business

Great article in simple language explaining the merits of Social Media Marketing for Business Results.

How to Use Social Media Marketing to Get Results in Your Business?
By Anna Hancox (c) 2010

We hear many business owners ask the question, “Is there any real value in Social Media for my Business?” Whether you like it or not, today and in the future social media is, and will be, an important component for all businesses.

Whether you are a bricks and mortar business or an online Internet-based business, chances are your sales will go up if you are marketing your business. There are many offline businesses that can effectively leverage social media to strengthen and grow their businesses in creative and effective ways. It’s about thinking outside the box.

Most importantly, your social media marketing must fit in with your overall business Marketing Plan. If you are ad-hoc in how you use social media to market your business then yes you will probably get ad-hoc results. Be sure to implement a Social Media Marketing Plan to ensure you get the most effective results for your business.

Many of the popular social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, all engage prospects and customers, grow the awareness and popularity of your business and inevitably boost your sales.

If you are serious about taking your business into the 21st century, then you will need to embrace social media. There are many ways that businesses can use social media to their advantage. Here are just a few:

* Be Present and Become and Expert:

The first step is to create your profiles on the various social media websites and then update them on a regular basis. You will need to check your accounts a couple of times a week to respond to comments from your followers. This a great way to build presence, to be seen as an expert and to build relationships with your followers. The more you update and are seen to be interactive with your followers, the stronger your business’s reputation will be.

* Educate Don’t Sell:

Social media is another way to build relationships with people, prospects and customers that you may not ever have otherwise been exposed to. So make the most of it. In today’s market, consumers are getting smarter, plus we live a world of mass advertising. The last thing you want to do is sell your products and services on social media. It’s about educating your fans. Every once in awhile you might promote a workshop or specíal deal. Educate more, Sell less. If people want to find out more about you and your products and services, they can visit your website.

* Get the Whole Company Involved:

If you have a staff, get them involved and task them to update your social media posts on a daily basis. This is an excellent morale booster and your staff’s involvement will strengthen your marketing effort and grow your business’s online exposure. A little suggestion – you might want to keep an eye on how much time your staff spends on social media and that it is for work and not personal purposes.

* Encourage People to Join You on Social Media:

Ask people to “Like” your social media pages. You can promote social integration on your business receipts, signs, brochures and invoices so that your existing customers will want to jump on the social media train as well. You can also ask your customers to check in to Foursquare or one of the other geo-location sites once they arrive in the general proximity of your store, offering them special promotions to entice them to come in.

* Keep an Eye on Your Competitors:

Social Media is a great medium to keep an eye on your competitors and stay ahead of the game. It is a great way to research whether your competitors are offering special promotions, how active they are on social media, who is following them and what they are saying. Always remember to stay on top of what your competition is doing by reading everything that they post. Remember that you and other businesses are always fighting to stay on top.

* Become a Community:

People want to feel like they belong to something i.e. a community. This is your job and social media provides a perfect platform for this. People are more likely to purchase from people They Know, They Like, and They Trust. The way to achieve this is by having live events at your store as well as events online. Promote unique deals, give advice and Be There for your community.

* Start Small:

If you don’t have any help in managing your social media accounts and you try to do it all by yourself, you may find that you aren’t doing it well or at all. Start with one and get comfortable with that. Make sure that you go for quality over quantity.

* Listen and Learn:

Are you aware of what your existing customers and potential customers are saying about your business, products and services, and brand? Pay special attention to the comments that people are posting online. It is also a good idea to set up Google alerts and to immediately handle issues as they occur. This is your chance to show people how much you care about them. Help them to solve their problems and address whatever concerns they have. Generally people are okay if a mistake is made, as long as you resolve it.

* Be Patient:

It takes time to see significant results with social media when it comes to the success of your business. Remember that your hard work will definitely pay off and the more relationships you build and the more you interact with others, the more interested other people will be in connecting with you again and again. It’s also important to remember that social media does provide a means for you to connect with people you might otherwise not ever have had the opportuníty to meet.

* Giveaways:

You can use social media to give away free products from your store. This is sure to attract attention. People will want to interact with you and will want to be the first to know when you introduce new products and services. Be careful, however, of not over doing the promotion and competitions.

Social Media is here. Many consumers are spending hours online, so it makes sense to have a presence as well for your business. The real results will come when you are strategic about your social media marketing. It’s all about taking your business into the 21st century. If you are ready to embrace it, so will your clients. Then watch your business grow.

About The Author
The Business Bootique is a dynamic Marketing & Sales business, helping passionate and committed businesses to grow, get more clients and have more time to reach a new level of success through personalized Marketing and Sales systems. If you want to learn more about how to grow your business, get your 7 Steps to a Fitter, Stronger, Bigger Business at www.thebusinessbootique.com.au

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Virtual Admin vs Social Media Virtual Assistant

A virtual admin is someone who helps out with typing and other office-related skills, catching the overflow without actually being based in your office.

A social media virtual assistant performs a somewhat different role. S/he is responsible for maintaining your online presence. The traditional PR role with some added oomph from the addition of online social media.

"social-media-virtual-assistant"The aim of all these interactive tools is to reach out to people and share your product or service in a fun way. Jo Dodds described it brilliantly recently when she coined the 3 ‘C’s – Connection, Conversation and Commitment. Getting to know people and building relationships by providing useful information and other help.

The main thrust of both Twitter and Facebook is regular status updates. Some of these can be personal but others should be informative statements or useful links that relate to your business or niche and so will require online research. Few business owners have the time to oversee the routine running of their companies AND look up relevant facts to entertain and engage with their social media audience.

Ensuring that all Direct Messages on Twitter, Facebook and any other platforms are answered promptly or possibly merely filtering out any spam so that the business owner can see the wheat from the chaff to be able to respond personally. Decluttering and organising using human intuition rather than a software program to eliminate the unnecessary, so that the task is nowhere near as overwhelming as it would first appear.

By identifying a series of accepted responses to certain questions/comments, the SMVA can deal with the regular day-to-day customer service-based interactions, leaving the business owner the luxury of more time to address any more complicated enquiries. If s/he wishes to participate more often in one media, the SMVA takes up the slack in the others but, because all responses have been pre-agreed, the transition is seamless.

The content and replies on any website blogs, Facebook Fan or Group pages, Youtube or Flickr accounts should also come under the remit of the SMVA, where the goal is to make sure that the same visual and verbal message is distributed across all media.

The social media virtual assistant also keeps abreast of technological developments in terms of both software and which platforms are relevant to and most effective for the promotion of the business, ensuring that the company website is bookmarked, publicised and generally brought to the attention of as many interested potential customers as possible but without aggressively shoving up their nose.

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Small Business Customer Relationship Management

"small-business-customer-relationship-management"When I worked up in Town, I remember that one of my secretarial duties was to file away all the business cards that my employer had collected when he attended different industry events/corporate parties/business lunches.

Our small business customer relationship management existed in the form of about four leather-bound books containing several hundred cards, most from different individuals representing the same major players in our niche, but there were an awful lot of bits of thick paper. Very occasionally, I would be despatched to look through the plastic pages to see if I could help my boss to remember the name of the person he had been chatting to about a particular deal a few months before so that he could invite him out to lunch.

In what my kids would term ‘the olden days’, networking was done over lunch or in the pub across the road from the ‘market’ but this was the City and it was not a process that really affected local businesses. Such establishments would get their custom from passing trade, many of whom would be regulars because that shop/firm would be the only emporium of that particular type locally. They might give out a few ‘gifts’ at Christmas to those clients who had supported them the most but, more often than not, they had a pretty captive market because no one was going to travel all the way to the next town on the off-chance that things might be a bit cheaper.

These days, every High Street has two or three representatives for any one type of store – butchers, greengrocers, hairdressers, accountants, solicitors, restaurants, cafes, wine bars, pizza, fish and chip, and other fast food outlets, banks, building societies, chemists, off licenses – and these are all in competition with the giant supermarkets, who seem to have a toe in a vast number of markets that never used to come under their remit. Times have changed and people are no longer confined to shopping locally. Suddenly, the competition is not only right on your doorstep, it’s in every other local shopping centre, as well as on the internet.

This is why it is vital for small bricks and mortar businesses to hold on to their regular clientele, but so many of them have absolutely no idea who these are and no way of contacting them.

I was listening to a webinar recently and the speaker reminded us of the ‘goldfish bowl’ that used to stand at the check out of most businesses in days gone by – well, in small town America anyway. This bowl was a repository for the business cards of the regulars – just in case anyone needed their services. That was what you did. You made opportunities for yourself by leaving your card in places that other people might see it. Nowadays, most shops no longer have such a thing… or if they do, they just dispose of the contents after a week or so, with barely a second glance.

But, said the speaker, if you turn the original purpose on its head, isn’t that a great way to find out who your regular customers are?

In today’s hugely competitive market place, we should be using every method at our disposal to discover and retain the identities and contact details of our customers so, if they don’t return for some reason, we can offer an incentive to make them check us out again. Often, they haven’t come back because they’ve just forgotten the great service that was given. In today’s busy world, there are so many distractions and, if someone else is shouting louder/offering a cheaper service, it is easy to forget the original provider. Loyalty is not really a reliable commodity any more.

By offering your customers an incentive to leave their email address or name and phone number, a business can acquire a list of clients and have the ability to contact them from time to time with the offer of a money-off coupon or just to keep them advised of new business activities/changes of menu.

It’s a far more cost-effective way of advertising because you are preaching to people who have already tried and, hopefully, enjoyed the company’s service. Think about what happens if you put an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or local newspaper. These tend to be grouped together according to service/niche and so your ad is surrounded by all your competitors. If one of them is offering the service more cheaply than you, then you’ve wasted your money on that advert. They also tend to be aimed at a very large geographical area so you can also lose out if you’re too far away from the customer’s locale.

"small-business-customer-relationship-management"If you can email your customer base with a coupon, that’s a great deal cheaper than putting the same discount promotion in a newspaper ad and also a lot more focussed.

However, small business customer relationship management is still a tricky thing. There are rules and etiquette and codes of behaviour. Certainly in America, there are even federal laws covering ’email solicitation’. And you can’t just keep trying to sell people stuff or they will unsubscribe.

As with all social media, the goal is to provide information and offer good service. To build trust in your brand so that when people do need your product, it is you that they remember.

It’s not a quick process, it takes time. But it is an extremely worthwhile endeavour.

So, where is your goldfish bowl?

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Lend me Your Ear!

“I’ve bought a ticket for the World Internet Summit and it’s a BOGOF. Why don’t you come with me and be my second set of ears?”

I agree that ‘lend me your ear’ is probably not the most effective chat-up line, but it was still Gray’s way of suggesting that we go away for a weekend together.

Oh, stoppit! Ever the gentleman, Mr. Wendes forked out for a separate room for my ‘ears’!

He told me to think of it as: “A catholic dirty weekend. Where a man and woman secretly run away to a hotel, stay in separate rooms and don’t do sex.”

So, that’s how I came to pitch up at a hotel overlooking Runway 5 at London’s Heathrow one Friday evening in November. Gray immediately took me to the bar to ‘catch me up’ on all that had gone on in the previous two days of the seminar. There had been a lot of speakers and he had already emptied his wallet buying two packages. One for mentoring and the other a sort of internet classroom complete with instruction on how to design websites that came with hosting thrown in.

For the next two days, I lived the seminar. We got up to take breakfast at 7, before the hordes of hoi polloi got there, and then into the conference room for a 9am start and the first of about eight speakers.

As a complete newbie, there was a lot of valuable information but, also, a huge amount that went straight over my head. And, indeed, looking through my copious notes, a lot of it still does.

What I remember most is the SELLING! Sure, there was a lot of content in the first half of every speaker’s presentation but then they had a product to shift and the NLP and persuasive techniques ramped up the hysterical pressure in the room so that people were just gagging to give their money away in case they lost out on the opportunity to change their life forever.

On the morning of the last day, Gray gave me his wallet for safe keeping. Not that there was any money left, mind, but just to be on the safe side.

I found myself entering a war of attrition. My mental faculties were using every means at their disposal to fight off the incoming urges that made me want to spend money I didn’t have on packages of information and software that I didn’t really understand.

In some ways, the fact that Gray had already spent so much was a wonderful brake on my own enthusiasm. Every time I felt as if I wanted to buy something, he would nod and say ‘Our package does that.’

So, reassured and relieved, I would allow the energy that was forcing me out of my seat to vent through my ears and drift away to infect the person in the row behind.

On Sunday night, after a silent dinner of fish, chips and mushy peas, two white-faced, shell-shocked fledgling  internet marketers made their way round the M25 and back to Essex to try to assimilate all the data buzzing around in their skulls.

It was the beginning.

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Starting Your Own Small Business

So, here we go!

Finally, I get my act together and start a blog about my own activities on the internet.

It’s all very well telling people that I can get them online and then find them customers, but if I can’t do it for myself, then there’s no pudding and certainly no proof.

In the eight months since I first attended an ‘internet marketing’ seminar, I have been sifting through all the different ways to make money on the ‘net.

And what I’ve discovered is that the only people who are really making money are the ones who are selling products that will make you money on the internet.

Invariably, there is one vital piece missing from all of their ‘inclusive courses’ or ‘mentoring programs’ – OOMPH!

People either don’t have the energy or the confidence to get out there and have a go.

Well, I’ve tried most of the methods now and I’ve made a few bob here and there but certainly nothing that would buy me a new Ferrari… or even support my expensive vegan chocolate habit.

I felt as if I had wasted my time and should go and get a proper job.

However, that’s when it struck me.  All these months, I’ve been learning all these systems to generate traffic to websites that were built from blogging templates.

I should be starting my own small business working with all this knowledge. In comparison to a lot of people, I am an expert in this area.
"Jo Shaer Social Media Solutions"
And who are the people I interact with every day?  Small local businesses who don’t have the budget to hire an expensive web designer and don’t have the time to market themselves online.

What they need is someone who can build them an affordable website that they can run themselves and a virtual assistant who will handle their online advertising strategy, preferably using as many free methods as possible.

Hello!  I’m over here!!!

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