Connecting via Social Media | Social Media Expert, Eileen Brown

You know what your business is all about. You have defined objectives,measurable, specific detailed goals and actions that you refine regularly. You’ve decided to expand your traditional ways of marketing to your customers and embrace conversational marketing. You’ve decided to add a Social Media component to engage in Web 2.0 dialogue with your customers and hopefully grow your business. So you start broadcasting on your chosen channels. Unfortunately here’s where things start to go wrong.

The Social Media explosion has been building for more than 25 years and it fundamentally changes the relationship between business producers and customers. It is key to business success, as was mass production in the Industrial Revolution, the impact of the Personal Computer in the workplace, and the growth of the web and network effects. These effects are very important for you, your business and your customers.

Social Media impacts your sales and potentially gives a great insight to marketing intelligence. It gathers information directly from your customers; it can refine your logistics, contribute to your research and refine your product development. It is crucial to your success in business. You may pay for market analysis, look at your click throughs, and find out your unique visitor numbers and which country they are from but that’s it. How do you find out how these users are grouped?

Is there a network cluster that you can define? Is there a Social Graph that connects your users? Is it strong and growing or is it fragmented and weak? How do you know? Where can you find this information?

Be careful what you say on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. Do you really need to share that much information

When you decide to move your Social Media efforts online, you know that you want to use these tools to connect with your customers. Unfortunately, some companies tend to use every form of Social Media online communication that they can which appears to look like an uncoordinated ‘scatter gun’ approach. The ‘launch’ of a blog, creation of a Facebook page, a Twitter name, a Friendfeed list, a YouTube channel is a great idea and will prove valuable to you, but many companies forget what type of messages they are trying to achieve. They forget to listen to their customers and they ignore whether their customers are actually listening to them.

In order to create a good online Social Media brand to connect effectively with your target audience, here are some things you may wish to consider:

  • LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter profiles. You may think that the information that you’ve put into these are pithy, witty and humorous. You need to consider whether your next employer/ customer would think so?
  • Make sure that you connect with all of your contacts online. Import your Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Outlook or Lotus Notes contacts and make the connection with everyone online
  • Contribute. Don’t just lurk on Social Media sites. Contribute to the conversation and get your voice and ideas heard.
  • Link, Link, Link. Refer to quality posts you find, and acknowledge people that link to you. Links = Reputation and credibility. Retweet interesting Tweets and thank people who ReTweet you.
  • Be careful what you say on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. Do you really need to share that much information and go into such detail about your personal life? Bleeping the swear words out with *** doesn’t really help if you’re trying to create the correct image.
  • I may not follow you on Twitter directly, but I may follow someone who follows you. How can you guarantee that people who contact you are not saying something in a conversation to you that will upset a prospective customer? Use the blocking feature of Twitter if you’re concerned about someone’s continued use of inappropriate messages.
  • Create a business card with your email address, Skype name, Twitter name, LinkedIn profile and Facebook page (if you want to use this for public facing opportunities) and blog URL. You want to make sure that you drive everyone to your online presence.
  • If you use Facebook for your private and public personas, then learn to use the privacy settings within the application. Make sure that only the information that you want to publicise outside of your network of accepted friends is actually the information you wish the world to see.

Managing your online Social Media brand is key to your success with your customers. Making sure that the information that you want to be released is on message, accurate, authentic and positive. With Social Media offering the potential for things to go very wrong, it can sometimes be rather daunting. So how do you manage your Social Media efforts effectively? How do you connect with the right segments of your customers to enhance your business?

Connecting with your customers is all about delivering a consistent message. It’s about making sure that everyone within your company follows your messaging guidelines. It’s about damage control if there are issues, an effective SocialMedia policy in place and it’s about a consistent approach to your online SocialMedia strategy.

You will completely underestimate the time taken to execute your Social Mediastrategy, so, if you decide to move forward with your Social Media architecture and delivery channels, make sure you have an effective, structured planned approach in place that will deliver the return on investment you desire, delight your audience and make your business more successful.

Eileen Brown, Amastra

Skype: Eileen_Brown

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