With the increasing popularity of social media marketing, there are new trends that will develop in the years to come. These new innovations and improvements will make social media marketing more developed, widespread and accessible than it already is.Social media will become defaultSocial media will become an unavoidable aspect of businesses. It leads to various channels of distribution and opportunities that businesses will not be able to ignore. The past has seen businesses trying to get a hold of their share of social media attention. It is now becoming more common and will be the norm by 2015. Social media will not just be used for marketing but it will also become a part of other avenues like recruitment and sales. Organizations will create their own teams to handle social media.ContentAlthough content has been receiving importance by several brands over the last few decades, this will be more widespread by 2015. Brands give high value to incorporating content that is catchy yet meaningful to engage clients and potential customers. Brand content is presented through videos, blogs, games and graphics. Red Bull is one example of a brand that mastered branded content.Tablets replacing printTablets became popular when Apple launched them in 2010. However, now a number of companies have launched cheaper tablets that are replacing print in households. A lot of well-known publishing houses are already swapping from print to tablets. Print media is declining rapidly. The Amazon Kindle Fire, an economical tablet which is soon to be launched will take over a large segment of the printing market.Progress in social searchAlthough there has been progress in social media overall, social search is one segment that has not kept up. The search option in Twitter is broken. Facebook and Google’s social search is inefficient and does not yield great results. These sits have already begun improvements in order to better the services delivered by these operators. Google has started with their +1 and Google+ options.Social commerce gains momentumMost popular brands have pages on social networking sites with a large following. People make suggestions and give recommendations on products via social media. A lot of purchases are made in the real world that is based on these recommendations. Several shops have created custom-made online shops for Facebook, which are more of a publicity stunt. These will soon be realized as a means of attaining sales.Social TVTraditional television will soon merge with the internet and give birth to a whole new way of watching TV. Apple maybe planning to launch a TV, but the company has not confirmed any such claims. The content on the TV will become more interactive and will get a social edge to it. Users will be able to share their experiences with their friends and family effortlessly.Facebook will continue to lead2017 will see Facebook users surpassing one billion and also becoming a public company. Facebook will become more prominent on smartphones making it an inevitable part of your daily life. By 2017, it may become the default social operating system on the internet.
Many small businesses are just getting started in social media. I’ve had many clients tell me they don’t know where to begin. Regardless of what your budget might be there are some simple ways you can “test the waters” before jumping in head first.Below are some tips to help you begin to integrate social media into some of your traditional marketing and business efforts. Social media should not be something separate from your traditional marketing efforts. Integration is key and will maximize your investment in all marketing, both online and offline.Remember just like marketing, social media is not sink or swim. The best marketers are those that take risks, take time to listen to their customers and learn from their mistakes. Try, try, try and try again. If you are doing these three things you will eventually get it right.Social Media Quick Start: 1. If you don’t already have one, setup a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account. All 3 of these are must haves for most businesses. Blogs are usually beneficial for most businesses as well. You can start a WordPress blog for free.2. Develop a marketing plan. If you don’t have one, write one or hire an expert to help. It doesn’t have to be 100 pages. At minimum take 30 minutes to formalize your goals and objectives. If you have no goals and objectives you will have nothing to measure your success and learn from.3. Next, develop a timeline of the activities you have planned. Review the activities of last year, ROI and any data that can help you make improvements and better decisions for 2010. At minimum try to have at least one theme per month. This is a great way for small businesses to begin integrated marketing.3. Co-Marketing Partner List: Make a list of your partners, local charities or other companies you can partner with for some co-marketing activities. Why not get together and share resources, run an ad together and maximize both your voice, market and brand a wareness.4. Go-To Market Strategy: Once you have your calendar at least in draft format, add some key categories for each month. These should include the types of activities or mediums you use for marketing. These should or can include social media, internet marketing via website, local advertising, promotions and campaigns, charity activities and general events. Optional tactics might be fundraisers, seminars, webinars and email blasts.5. CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT: Now the tricky part… what are you going to market? What are you going to promote, email, talk with your customers about? What are you going to tweet, share on Facebook or discuss with LinkedIn business members? I find this is the area most small businesses struggle. If you don’t already have a messaging platform, create one or hire someone to help. At minimum ensure you have a mission statement, vision, value proposition, company description, product(s) description, benefit statement and list, feature statement and list, tagline, and more. Developing this content one time at the beginning of the year will save you tons of time later. It will also enable you to be more agile when a new opportunity arises for a good deal on a quick ad or co-marketing opportunity, or charity sponsorship. It’s about “Create Once, Use Many”. I also suggest writing some monthly Twitter Tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts for each month. I promise if you do this you will NOT regret it.6. Map your calendar to your content. Since you created themes for each month during your marketing plan development, now you can start plugging in content from your message platform. What features or benefits are best to market in the summer, spring or fall? You will begin to have something to talk about and inspire your customers!! This is goodness friends!7. LISTEN: Before starting social media you need to listen. Listen to your customers, partners, mentors and most importantly your customers. What are they saying about your product or similar products? How are your customers using social media? What social networks are they “hanging out on”?? You’ll probably be surprised how many of them are using it effectively. Take notes of what you learn, and how you can contribute content to the social platform to inspire them to read, listen and respond to your content.8. Develop your Social Media Plan: Based on what you learned in your research, develop a plan that includes goals, objectives and tactics for social media platforms, audiences, partners and content. This should be mapped to your over arching marketing plan. If you followed my directions, you will be able to easily map a social media strategy activities to the larger plan. Guess what this means folks…wala… you are on your way to an “integrated marketing” land! Congratulations!9. Setup Your Social Media World: I don’t have time in this blog post to go into detail on this section. I will be writing some content over the next few weeks that should break down some of the steps for you. Suffice it to say at minimum you need a Facebook Group and Business Page, Twitter Account, and Linked In. If you are targeting niche markets you may need multiple eventually but remember we don’t have to dive in head first. There is much you can do with customizing each of these. Facebook has some awesome features where you can make it function almost like a web page. You can add html to enable email subscriptions, surveys, discussions and more.10. EXECUTE: Now that you have some content it’s time to just go for it. Start Tweeting the content you developed in your message platform. Post a Facebook post and share it with your friends. You’ll be surprised how many people will respond, become fans of your Facebook page, join your LinkedIn group, take your survey and respond to an offer. Think positive! Hopefully people want what you have to offer. If not, I would question why you are in business.11. ENGAGE: It is important you don’t just blast out “noise”. Listen to what your customers have to say. Respond when somebody posts on your Facebook wall. If you see a new Twitter Follower who has a common interest, send them a message. Social media is about conversations and relationships. Inspire your audience and they will follow you, listen to you and engage. Engagement leads to conversation which leads to a relationship built on trust and value added. It is not until after you have INSPIRED and CONNECTED with your target audiences that you will ACHIEVE the business goals and objectives you are seeking.12. MEASURE your impact: Because you set goals and objectives you will know your key metrics. If you are a small business who couldn’t hire an expert and didn’t really know what to expect or measure, it’s okay! Many companies are in the same boat. However, regardless measurement is key! Track your Facebook fans, twitter followers. Track what content they responded positively to.13. IMPROVE: Based upon the early learnings, tweak your approach, strategy, content and more. CONTINUALLY LISTEN, MEASURE and IMPROVE! This is the key to social media. There is no perfect way to send a TWEET. You will have good tweet days and bad.14. DON’T GIVE UP: Keep going! You have made it this far do NOT GIVE UP. Document your findings, wins, successes, learnings, and losses. Keep your head up and have fun!If you find yourself overwhelmed and realize now why the agency cost was higher than you thought it would be, then contact them for help! Social media takes time, focus and dedication.It’s easy to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account. The fun part is seeing your business grow, brand awareness soar and objectives met!Remember you are not playing the social media game to be the most popular girl or guy on Twitter. Although that may be a nice perk, we all will have a hard time competing with the 3+ Million followers of Ashton Kutcher LOL!Good luck and have fun!!!
“Social media sounds interesting, but I just don’t have time to get into it. I’m too busy running my business!”You’re right. If you want to be effective in social media marketing, you have to invest some time. But there are ways to effectively manage a social media campaign(s) in less than an hour a day. The reality of the time suckOK, so the truth is that social media CAN be a major time suck. You can (and I often do) go on Twitter “for just a minute” and end up chatting for two hours. You can come across a new forum and spend an hour setting up a business profile. You can hop from article to article, just reading and commenting on stories and tips for half a day. You can – and you should. These are all things that will help you learn the ropes, engage in networking opportunities and promote your business. But you don’t have to get caught in the social media time suck every day.Your business comes first. Social media is just one way of promoting it. At a meeting the other day, a successful and socially-savvy REALTOR® explained that they key to evaluating how to spend the time you have available for promoting yourself was by repeatedly asking yourself, “How will this activity bring me business now or down the road?”So what do you want out of social media?Sales? Brand recognition? A positive name in the community? Connections with people who can help promote your business?Think about this question, look at your overall marketing goals and write down your campaign objectives. Be as specific as possible here. For example, if one of your goals is to have your restaurant packed full of patrons every Friday night, your campaign objective for the week might be to get five diners to come in as a direct result of your online efforts. (You could measure this by using a coupon code throughout your online campaigns.) If your goal is to increase your brand awareness in the community, perhaps your campaign objective is as straightforward as getting 20 new local followers on Twitter.Jessica Andreola is the Operations Manager at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel. Active on Twitter (@CYBurlHarborVT) and Facebook, Andreola says she keeps up with social media throughout the day by checking in on her profiles on her mobile phone and iPad periodically.”It is important for us to keep up with local news and events, to promote Burlington and to connect with clients/potential clients,” she said. “For us, social media is integrated into our marketing plan. I don’t sit down and post all at once… I check Twitter a few times a day and post on Facebook a few times a week.” Andreola’s says the brand enhancement, client engagement, community knowledge and referral rate numbers make social media well worth a little of her time.You now know why. Here’s the how:The #1 key to managing social media marketing time is having a strategy in place and sticking to it. Here are a few tips:
Block out time – It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, it just has to be a focused and consistent part of your day. It could be half an hour in the morning and half an hour at lunch, or perhaps an hour at the end of the day. Put this time in your calendar and turn off everything else. Use this time to really focus on developing your online presence, engaging with clients and building your brand.
Follow your customers – With limited time, you need to go where your customers are. Sometimes, you know exactly where they hang out (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). Other times you need to test the waters in a few places and see where you get the most feedback. Wherever it is, spend at least 50% of your time there.
Don’t get distracted – If you see an article you’re interested in, bookmark it so that you can read it later. Skim articles and look for relevant nuggets of information or helpful tips. You want to get a sense of what is going on with your friends, followers, colleagues and industry experts, but you don’t have to read every single word. You don’t have to keep clicking. Focus on YOUR BUSINESS.
Embrace the tools – There are many options available for accessing your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare sites all in one dashboard. I use Sprout Social, and many people find TweetDeck or HootSuite helpful. By having all your feeds in one spot, you can be much more efficient in monitoring activity and promoting across multiple platforms.
Schedule your promotions – Spend a little extra time one day a week setting up scheduled promotions (tweets, blog posts, etc.) to automatically go out at specific times throughout the week. There are a number of tools for helping you do this if you are not using a platform such as SproutSocial or HootSuite. I always found time.ly to be simple and easy to use. By scheduling your promotions, you free up your daily time to respond and engage.
Take it mobile – Smartphones are wonderful things, and they allow you to call up your accounts just about anywhere. So use that 20 minutes you are waiting at the doctor’s office to reply to a few tweets! Snap a photo at the conference you’re at and upload it to Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. Set your accounts to notify you on your phone when you receive a direct message, so that you can shoot off a quick response in a timely manner!
Note: Depending on the traffic to your sites, you may need to adjust the notification alerts on your phone depending on your promotions, plan for responding to feedback, etc. If you are aggressively promoting your Twitter page, you may not want to get a cell phone alert about a new follower every 2 minutes!
You DO have timeSocial media does take a time investment. But if it means reaching new customers, connecting with current clients, engaging with industry peers and promoting your brand – isn’t an hour a day worth it? Other ResourcesWORTH READING > Amber Naslund wrote an excellent series of articles and ebook on Social Media Time Management.