Author: Ellen Gunning. Ellen is Director of Irish Academy Training which provides training courses, nationwide, in communications, business, leadership, marketing and social media. www.irishacademytraining.com
Have you noticed that absolutely everyone talks about reaching their customers and clients by social media? It seems that the world has forgotten all about traditional media and decided that social media is the new thing.
Social media has actually been around for quite a while, but new variations keep appearing and people love hopping onto a new thing or keeping up with trends.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that social media is not time consuming. It IS. Don’t believe anyone who says that any idiot can do it. They CAN’T. Well – they can, but you won’t see any results. Don’t believe anyone who tells you you have to be on it – even if you don’t yet have a clear vision of what you are doing. No you don’t.
Lets have a look at social media and see what it can do for your business.
Firstly, in the same way that I told you earlier in the series that Public Relations was telling and advertising is selling, social media is interacting. People are on social media because they want others to connect with them.
If you are using social media you need to know where your customers “hang out” and that varies by age group, by profession and by location.
LinkedIn is hugely popular in the western world as a way of connecting with fellow professionals and keeping in touch with trends and contacts. It is particularly useful if you are trying to connect with someone (its very easy to find a contact who can introduce you). Its also great for keeping track of where people are at in their careers – and what new positions they have moved to. But LinkedIn is not universal. We formed a LinkedIn group some years ago for all of our graduates worldwide. The first email I received was from a graduate in Japan to tell me that it is never used there. The second mail was from a graduate in Russia who told me that the Russians use Contackta (not LinkedIn). So, your location matters when you are choosing which social media to interact with.
The age-group also makes a big difference. If you are trying to reach the mothers of young children, then Facebook is definitely a platform that you should be using. You’ve heard it said, and it is true, that young people began leaving Facebook when their parents started using it. Who wants to be on a social platform that your mother or father is on, right?
Instagram is a particular favourite of teenagers who love the fact that they can use it for pictures. If you are aiming for a teenage audience, this is where you should be. And how did teens survive without Snapchat? It really just took off as soon as it was launched.
Parents also spend a lot of time reading blogs about anything to do with children. Find a reputable blogger about children’s issues and you will find thousands of mammies! Teenagers also follow bloggers – mainly for clothes, make-up, fashion and celebrity.
Twitter is the communications tools of choice for journalists. It is fast and furious. It is the perfect tool for finding alerts about upcoming events or things that are happening right now. Journalists have really adapted to twitter and constantly monitor it. If they are your audience, you should definitely be on this platform.
So what is your strategy?
You need to know exactly what you are doing on social media, so you should have a strategy. Are you chatting with people? Building a brand? Selling product?
And of course, no matter which platform you choose, you need to create special content. You can use file photos for social media, but you shouldn’t be using them all the time. Your photos should be of real people and real events – that’s what your readers are interested in.
You also need to create video footage. Enough for those “40-second snippets” that can get people interested, and also longer footage for people who want to “learn something” by visiting your website.
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular as a way of capturing advice and information on audio. People can listen as they walk the dog!
You should also look at whether or not you should consider enhancing your information with paid advertising. If your product is new, it might be worth doing some Google or Bing adwords to get yourself noticed. Advertising is expensive, so make sure you know what you are doing. Pay Per Click only shows a return on your investment if a high enough proportion of the clicks lead to sales.
Consider blogging as well. If you are an expert in your area – people will be interested in what you have to say. Whether it is furniture restoration, choosing the right car or great holiday destinations your expertise will be valued by that niche group of people who are looking for your service.
The over-riding objective of social media interaction is that you want to become the “go to” resource, i.e. the place where people go when they want good, unbiased information. If you achieve that, – then they will come back to you when they want to purchase.