Social media marketing appears to be finally gaining recognition amongst businesses as a necessary and legitimate inclusion into the marketing strategy. In a recent survey, 83% of businesses plan to increase their marketing budget for social media in 2011. That’s astonishing, when you consider it wasn’t too long ago when companies were still deciding whether or not to embrace Facebook. Now, over 500 million users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, virtually making it impossible for small businesses to ignore.
But simply acknowledging social media marketing and putting money towards it, won’t lead to success. It might be a nice boost to the ego when you’ve hit the 500 “Like” milestone on your Facebook company page, but if your audience isn’t engaged, interacting or spreading the word, it isn’t of much use.
Social media marketing needs a purpose. For me, it’s cultivating a community around the brand. That means focusing on attracting engaged fans and followers, learning from them how to improve our offerings, exchanging ideas and information, and getting a pulse on where the brand stands on any given day. If the community finds value in our interactions, they are more likely to share that with others and help grow the community. The community, in turn, will help generate sales indirectly through positive word of mouth.
There are many social media marketing platforms out there – too many, in fact. I tend to focus my daily social media activities on blogging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The combination of these five social media platforms deliver the best overall results in my experience. And you can integrate them very easily so that each new blog post you write, automatically gets tweeted out and added to your Facebook updates. If you still haven’t completely dived into social media marketing, here are some simple digital trends to guide you on how to use some of the most popular social media platforms.
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.