As part of Widgetbox's new staff series—we'll be bringing you occasional guest posts from members of the Widgetbox team.
Chances are you’re already well versed with social networking sites. You regularly update your Facebook profile, you have hundreds of professional connections on LinkedIn, and you could probably even narrate your entire weekend with a 140 character Tweet.
But while you may be well aware of the personal value of social media, do you know how to use it as a tool for successfully marketing your business or brand?
Here are my tips and tricks for how to get the most out of your business’s social media efforts:
There’s no such thing as a free lunch—even when it comes to social media.
While there are very few (if any) monetary costs involved with social media marketing, there are substantial costs of time. A fully integrated social media plan will require a considerable investment of your time across multiple sites and services. Perhaps more than any other marketing channel, with social media it’s extremely important that your pages are up to date and relevant. Social media is all about staying current and engaging, while being responsive—things that are hard to do if you’re not monitoring your social media campaigns at least once a day. To help ease the workload here are two tips I recommend:
- Integrate dynamic content from several sites into single applications whenever possible.
Widgets allow you to combine several social media sites into one customizable unit. For example Widgetbox’s Blidget™ allows you to include your blog, Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and more into a single app. And, since several social media sources are in a single app, it ensures users will be able to easily follow you across multiple sites by installing your widget once.
- Utilize services that allow you to post to multiple sites and services with a single post.
For this purpose, I highly recommend Posterous.com. It’s a free service that allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn , and more by sending a single email.
Use other sites besides the Big Three—especially if you’re in a niche or specialized market.
A big myth in social media marketing is that your brand’s social media strategy should consist primarily of the Big Three—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This isn’t necessarily the most effective strategy, especially if you’re in a small, niche, or specialized market. Some additional sites I recommend utilizing are YouTube, Flickr, Bank of America’s Small Business Community, Digg, Ning, and Technorati.
If you are going to target one of the Big Three sites—make it personalized. For example, you can add customized content such as polls, countdowns, spotlight galleries, and more to your Facebook Fan Page using Widgetbox’s Facebook Fan Page apps.
Try a lot of different things to see what people respond to, especially if you have a varied audience.
Remember that social media sites aren’t just for “marketing”.
Social media is all about online conversations. It’s a place to listen to your users and encourage participation. Using social media simply for “marketing” purposes not only ensures that you’ll never realize the full value of social media marketing, it also means that you run a high chance of alienating your community of followers. Consider using social media sites as a means to respond to users’ needs and ideas. Done correctly, social media can lead to new product ideas, consumer insight, and even cost-effective customer service.
Avoid constant one-sided product promotions.
Nobody likes constant promotions thrown their way, especially if they’re not relevant. Remember your fans and followers are choosing to follow your brand or business because they believe they derive some sort of value from it. When promoting products or services, make it relevant and “news worthy”, something you yourself would be interested in.
Show some personality.
As my Director of User Experience would say “Is your company run by humans or robots?”. People want to follow someone they can relate to. Whenever possible (and appropriate) try to incorporate humor and personality into your social media sites. I’m also a big fan of including staff pictures—it lets people see who’s behind their favorite brands (and assures them the brand isn’t really run by robots).
Above all else—have fun!
Remember social media is about fun and engagement. It’s about establishing person to person connections and promoting community buzz. If you’re passionate and interested in your brand’s product(s), your attitude will come across and your readers will react favorably. Also I’ve found that occasionally giving a shout-out to your supervisors never hurts either. Mr. Penston (a.k.a. the” boss man”), that was for you.
—When she’s not being made fun of by the development team for her lack of coding knowledge, Jillian is doing all things marketing, including crafting Widgetbox’s social media strategy.