Nine best practices of social media marketing

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on September 29, 2011

Nine best practices of social media marketing

Social media, which was once regarded by marketers as 'just a craze', has now evolved into something far too potent to be ignored, and has changed the way in which we communicate with consumers, according to Kristin Hersant, vice president of corporate marketing for StrongMail, who has charted the development of nine key best practices for social marketing.

Social media marketing is one of the key methods to get others talking about your products and your brand, as well as establishing a relationship with your prospects and customers. It is a far more targeted and personal approach. Traditional marketing often involves force-fed messages being seen by millions of people who may or may not care about what you have to say, but social media marketing is about targeting specific customers and engaging them with something that is direct, memorable and meaningful to them.

However, a brand's reputation and awareness can easily fall in either direction with social media marketing, and if your campaign isn't successful you could cause confusion, turn customers off or end up with plenty of negative publicity on your hands. By spending adequate time planning how you are going to deploy a successful online marketing strategy and being diligent enough to execute properly, you will reap the benefits.

By doing this, you can vastly improve your company visibility, strengthen customer relations, identify new revenue opportunities, and create viral word-of-mouth about your brand or message. So with this in mind, here are nine of the best practices in social media marketing that help companies and customers alike:

  1. Have a clear, measurable goal This doesn't necessarily have to be something money orientated - in fact, brands are still struggling with how to best quantify social media marketing in ROI terms. All of the following are reasonable social media marketing goals, and can be measured: improved SEO; prospect list growth; and improved relationships with existing customers.  
  2. Be consistent in your communications The engine that keeps the process going is the discipline of being persistent in your engagement within the communities that you are a part of. This takes more work than you might think. Too many brands don't think about the messages they are sending out, and instead end up shelling messages out to everyone and hope that whoever is interested will come to them. In reality, quite the opposite happens - you will simply be regarded as a spammer. Decide what your tone will be. Know what should and shouldn't be emphasised online. Also be sure to have a quality check for tone and messaging before anything is published in a social media channel.  
  3. Be conversational And be brief, too. People expect online communications to be informal and short; this will help you to retain your customers and increase your brand's credibility. The more personable you can be the better, however it's even more important to make sure your message is meaningful. Many consumers resent the fact that their social network has been hijacked by brands that are constantly trying to sell to them. This is because some brands make the mistake of viewing social media as a content distribution channel for existing marketing programmes. Blatant advertising messages and sales solicitations are outright taboo in most social communities - it will only lead to people getting irritated and blocking you.  
  4. Go where your customers are Make sure you do your research. It's vital that you know your audience and you know what social media platforms that they use on a regular basis. Only deploy accounts on relevant platforms; don't create a Twitter account if you know your audience doesn't use it. Search for topics related to your business on LinkedIn and Facebook. Or search for your business on Yelp or Insider Pages and other such resources to see how people are talking about your company. Also, your customers will probably be willing to share their social behaviours, so don't forget to ask them.  
  5. Make it easy to find more information about your company That's the whole point of all marketing, isn't it? It's perfectly acceptable to include links back to your site in social media communications. Just remember it's all about balance and the goal is to participate in conversations and not simply self promote.  
  6. Share relevant links Social media is popular because it enables people to find and share information that they value. By all means, link to your company's assets, but also show that you're engaged in a wider conversation by sharing blogs, news stories and other relevant information that your audience would find interesting. And always, always link to sources. There is great potential for the spread of misinformation in social media, so back up your assertions as often as possible.  
  7. Listen and respond You can't expect your campaign to be successful unless you're willing to spend some time on it, and the "social" part of social media is its greatest (and most often unexplored) potential. Not too long ago, most marketing was about talking to your potential customers. Most people these days rightly expect that you will talk and interact with them. By doing so, you can find out exactly what your customers require and what their concerns are. If a customer has something negative to say about your brand, listen to their point of view. After all if you don't then you'll be perceived as, well, 'unsocial'.  
  8. Be active There is no hard-and-fast rule about too much or too little social media communication, but you won't get anywhere if information is only flowing one way. It depends on the setting, the industry, and others involved in the conversation, but be prepared to participate daily, even if that just means responding to comments or adding to a conversation.  
  9. Don't give up! If all else fails, go back to point 1. If you're not getting the results you want, try new ways to engage your intended audience. The web makes it easy to reinvent your message and try new social media marketing strategies.

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