Moving forward: Thoughts on social media marketing in 2012
With the holidays upon us, the realities of the year’s end have set in. It’s time to begin clearing out inboxes, archiving 2011 files and preparing for 2012. It’s time for reflection and anticipation.
When it comes to social media marketing in 2012, the first step is looking back at what worked during the past 12 months and then, based on those results and the business goals for 2012, developing a plan for the upcoming year. For many companies, 2011 was the year for implementing social media.
Those still questioning the point of social media, should consider the facts provided by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:
Why followers and fans matter
With a majority of the population now visiting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, creating a brand presence on these sites is becoming an essential part of doing business. Customers will turn to social media to learn more about products and services in real time.
Unlike any other marketing tool, social media allows companies to speak to customers in a more personal way, as if they are talking to a friend not a company, which helps build trust and rapport. It also assists in building online visibility to drive traffic to your website and ultimately through your doors, much like a word-of-mouth referral.
Social media can also help leverage public relations efforts by pushing press coverage out to a larger audience and pulling media people in, enticing them to learn more about your company and its brand.
Social media marketing in 2012: How to improve your pages
If your company already has established Facebook and Twitter pages, it is important to examine the content you are posting to make sure that you are providing value. For example, if you have a retail store or restaurant, post photos of products or dishes and utilize social media to let your customers know the specials of the day.
If you have a company that provides a service to other businesses, post helpful tips and educational articles related to your field. Remember, social media engagement is not one-sided.
As well as posting content, it is important to reach out and follow others and “Like” business-related Facebook pages. Then, they in turn may follow or like your page and interact by commenting on your posts. The other crucial factor in integrating social media into marketing is frequency and consistency.
Strategic planning and implementation
While it sounds simple in concept, before launching a social media campaign, companies need to remember, these pages are a voice for the company and represent the brand, it is not something that should be taken lightly. You should establish internal guidelines and a strategic plan specifying how your organization is going to manage the social media sites.
Figure out who is going to be responsible for the actual posting and what kind of information you want to share. In some cases, an in-house marketing or communications person is best. If there is no one in-house equipped to handle things, enlisting a public relations firm to manage an integrated public relations and social media campaign is the best approach. A public relations firm will know how to create online messaging and content that speaks to the public.
Mix it up
With the push to build a presence in social media clearly on the rise, it is tough to know where to focus your marketing efforts. The key to any marketing plan is developing a strong consistent message that reaches your target audience — social media is one tool to help make that happen.
Marketing plans must still incorporate a mix of more traditional sales and advertising efforts like targeted print, radio and online ads, along with public relations outreach to increase visibility and generate sales. While social media will continue to evolve and remain a powerful tool, an integrated campaign is optimal for any successful business.