An introduction to social media for newbies

This week has been a big learning curve as I sink my teeth into a new client assignment. Here are some of the tips I’ve learnt recently about how to use social networks to grow your business, whether it’s big or small.

I’ll go through each of the social networks with some key tips for each

Why should I do anything?
Firstly you might want to ask why should I do anything in social media so here are some key reasons to consider it:

  1. It can improve your search engine optimisation and I’ve seen anecdotal evidence in travel that it can increase your web traffic by up to 30%.
  2. It can reduce the costs of market research and new product development as you can use it to test out new product ideas with your customers. However the key question is to ask if you are ready for it as it does change how you do business so the earlier you start listening, learning and experimenting with social networks, the better.
  3. It can reduce some of your customer service costs if you proactively map some of the key information requests and then put up solutions to known customer pain points with your product or service.

If you are a company that has banned social media networks like Facebook in your company, this is unlikely to deter those that already have it loaded on their phones. We are starting to see the uptake of smart phones using the new Google platform called Android and the number of applications for Iphone and Blackberry is now exploding, albeit with some very short lifespans. It is likely that 2011 will see social networks going mobile. There are a raft of new platforms which are now delivering location based services such as Foursquare.

Linked In
This has become one of the most useful tools for business networking with more than 70m users as of June 2010 and head hunters now use it extensively. It’s important to keep your profile updated and ensure you network with your existing contacts. You can let Linked In review your email list so it can identify people that you can invite to connect.

The great thing about Linked In is that you can join up to 50 groups and through these you can be making new business contacts. Use the search groups tool to target those groups where you can see the opportunity to make some contacts and then network with them. The “Lions” are those that have 500 contacts and who have worked through the groups to build their contacts. However it’s not about quantity and more about making contact with those you connect with. As with the principles of good networking it’s all about what you can do for them first and not about selling. Sharing some interesting news item or learning is going to build more friendships and goodwill than any type of selling. It also helps to make comments and give feedback to groups as this will drive interest in your profile. Make sure you feature any events you are running on your linked in pages and there are free tools like Eventbrite which can also help you with registration and sign up to reduce costs. It helps to personalise your invitations to connect on Linked In so that people understand why you have contacted them.

Facebook
This network has seen astonishing growth and has just reached 500 million users which represents 10% of everyone on the planet. It has grown by 42% since July 2009 and 138% in UK over past 2 years and now boasts 26.5 million users.

In order to use Facebook it’s best to split your personal and business facebook presence and make it clear via your email address and welcome as to which facebook page is for each. Make sure you load a company profile for your business Facebook pages. You also have the option of loading your logo and information about the company. As with Linked in join some groups and if you cannot see one for the area you are interested in then look at creating one. Facebook is not a minority sport and has gone mainstream so is now used by those both young and old.

Twitter
This is used a lot by TV personalities and musicians to create a following together with You Tube and is a great way to build some timely communications with customers at busy times or during a crisis. It has also been a way that many hotel groups such as Hyatt have started to leverage Twitter as a 24 hour concierge service to complement their customer service response. Tracing people in Twitter who have similar interests to you is easy using the search facilities and you can also use some of the additional Twitter tools like Twellow and Tweet Deck.

You Tube
This network has an amazing array of viewers and is ideal for sharing videos. You can now create your own You Tube Channel and customise this to your company look and feel so it looks like your corporate website.

Corporate Blogging
There are a number of sites that are geared up for blogging which include Blogger, WordPress and Type Pad. All these blogging platforms enable you to integrate your blogs into all of your social media sites and will generate RSS feeds which means that feeds of your blogs can be put on other websites which further increases their visibility across the web. Be careful about trying to import text from Word into Blogger as it has become harder of late and there are quite a few gripes on this in the help section.

General Tips
Make sure you upload a photo on each site as this really improves networking.

It’s best to do a little bit each day than to try and do it all in one go.

Whenever you meet someone always follow up with them on Linked in and other networks whilst the contact is fresh.

Think of all these social networks as interrelated and you will find that posting tweets can often help with driving traffic to your blogs or content on your other social media channels.

Do post a comment and tell us if you found this blog of help and what else you would like to know about. More guidance can be found at www.face-marketing.com.

Please leave a comment - we all like them