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    The Increasing Role of Social Media

    The Increasing Role of Social Media in Internet Marketing

    Social media forms have existed since at least the 1980s, in the form of shared online forums in which people posted and communicated across the world. Even when Facebook began operating in 2004, though, very few could have anticipated that social media would explode into the colossus it currently represents. They grew quickly, from purely social online gathering spots to a means by which people could create, post, and share information with potentially millions of people at once.

    Still, it is relatively recently that social media has become an avenue for marketing a business. Having a company Facebook page, for many, represents the minimum presence you can have for your company. And for the savvy business owner, the opportunities for building out your social media marketing presence are virtually limitless. By building your online presence out and letting your network grow and work for you, you can push your company into the 21st Century, and your bottom line into the stratosphere.

     

    Broadening Your Reach through Networking

    The first step in moving from social networking to social media marketing is probably obvious: create a social media presence for your business. Where you do so depends in part on your business. There are many platforms available, and you should use as many as make sense for you. Facebook represents a must have for your company; there is no reason not to develop a page to represent your business. Twitter is a great option as well, and depending on who you are, Pinterest, Google+, Reddit, and many others could work well for you. For each, you need to design your page in a way that represents you well.

    Once you have the social media accounts on which you settle, you can start working on your network. The power of social media marketing lies not in its existence, but rather in its ability to connect you to other people. You should start directing people to your social media accounts and give them updates and content worth sharing. When you bring others into your network, you develop inroads into their networks as well. Think of your presence on each of these sites as the epicenter of a web. Each strand connects you to someone else, and anyone else who is already connected to them now has a path directly to you. Done properly, this can help your presence grow exponentially in a relatively short time.

    Of course, to fully capitalize on the power of social media marketing, you need to plan ahead. If you throw a Facebook page and Twitter account together without thinking about how you can best use them, you set yourself up for failure. You need to think about how you can best represent what you do: what kind of tone to use, what images and videos can help you, and how to reach out to your customers. You need to define who your target audience is, and how you can bring them in.

     

    Creating a Content Library



    One of the best ways to bring your audience in is to create compelling content for them to read. You do not want every post to be a sales pitch, because it takes little time for this approach to turn people off. Even though your end goal should be to create and drive more sales for your business, your social media presence should focus on building their interest levels and letting them know that you provide products and services that might appeal to them.





    On Twitter, you only have so much space with which to work. You cannot explain much in 140 characters or less, and trying to deliver a complete message or idea in this amount of space will undoubtedly lead to frustration more often than not. Instead, think of your posts as accomplishing one of two things. First, you can lay out a single sentence or line that describes something you do, or a problem you can solve. This can lead to clicks over to your website to learn more. Second, you can write it as a headline with an accompanying link to content you post on your website. You create information there, and use your Twitter feed to lead more people to it.

    Other venues might give you more space, but you still as a general rule don’t want to post lengthy content there. Rather, you can lay out an anecdote or a tease, enough to get people thinking about a particular issue or problem your company addresses. This is a great place to post images or video as well, so long as it remains relevant to what you do. Your content can get to your company’s message in different ways, but ultimately you need it all to circle back to your story and reason for being.

     

    Establishing Your Expertise

    Describing a problem is only half the battle. To leverage your social media presence well, you need to let people know that you offer solutions. Here again, social media marketing can play a huge role in getting your message out. You want to show that you take care of your customers, that your product or service gives people what they need.

    Part of this can come from the content to which you link on your site. You want to lead people to well-written information that shows not only that you exist in a particular market space, but that you understand that market space as well as anyone else, and better than almost everyone else. In clear language, you describe something about what you do every day and how that particular industry works. Show people that you know what you are doing.

    Additionally, you can benefit from showing how well you have taken care of the customers you have. A picture of a satisfied customer—with his or her permission—can do wonders in getting other people interested in your business. A brief post about a creative solution to a difficult problem, or an exciting moment you create for a customer, lets people know that you understand your industry not only in the abstract, but in terms of real people and their needs.

    Finally, you can reach out to other experts in your industry. Look for those with the most engaging and active social media presence and build connections with them. If you can connect your network with others and gain backlinks from influential individuals and companies in your industry, this shows that you align with the experts in your field and are similarly trustworthy. In the online world, authority can be difficult to define, but those who have it are easy to identify. You want to be seen as connected to those people.

     

    Controlling Your Message



    Finally, a huge aspect of social media marketing comes from the sharing of and commenting on your posts. Encourage your customers to connect to you on social media, but also to retweet and share your content. Encourage them to use your hashtag and link to your website. Every time someone links back to you, they are building your website up in the search rankings and adding to the reputation you have online. They are also sending like-minded, interested people directly to you, adding the influence of a friend to your marketing message to give your conversion percentage a decided boost.





    Of course, one challenge of interacting with others on social media is that you can’t control what other people say about you. Positive comments for your posts and sharing of your content can be great, but you need to be careful for the ever-present possibility that people will say negative things about you. You need to monitor regularly and be ready to respond.

    But how do you respond best? The easy answer is to delete negative comments, but this can do more harm than good. People will think—perhaps correctly—that you are trying to bury negative information, leading to a notion that you are not trustworthy. Instead, treat these as opportunities to address customer concerns and improve your offerings. When you respond immediately to a negative comment, you take control of the message back. You show that you can respond to concerns and solve problems. The lasting impression becomes not the complaint, but rather your ability and willingness to find solutions to satisfy your customers’ needs.

     

    Keeping It Going

    Like any form of content marketing, you cannot just set up a page and let it go. You need to keep up with your posts, creating content for people on a regular basis. This keeps the current customers coming back, and helps new customers continue to find you. You need to monitor consistently as well, so you stay on top of what people are saying about or to you. Once you establish a social media presence, to stop posting is akin to deciding to no longer speak or listen to your customer base. This is bad.

    To accomplish this, you may need to enlist help. Creating the occasional tweet or posting brief customer stories might be something you can do in passing, but building your content library and following comments, shares, and retweets over time can put a serious burden on your time. A social media marketing company can do wonders to help you stay on top of it all. Further, working with the same company for both website content and social media marketing content can help you maintain a focused, consistent message.

    1st in SEO works with its clients to build and expand that consistent messaging, using both your website and your social media marketing platforms to build out a focused, consistent presence that reaches your customers effectively. Contact us today to take your business to the next level.

    Matt :