How to Use Social Media for Business

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How to Use Social Media for Business. Presented by Stephen G. Nichols Owner, Boswell Small Business Marketing Inc. Communications Committee Chair, Rotary Club 13. Agenda:. Overview Benefits/Risks Examples of Rotary 13 social media What you can do to start today. What is Social Media?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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How to Use Social Media for BusinessPresented by Stephen G. NicholsOwner, Boswell Small Business Marketing Inc.Communications Committee Chair, Rotary Club 13

Hello, I am Stephen Nichols. I am the owner of Boswell Small Business Marketing and current Chair of the Rotary 13 Communications Committee. Part of what I do for the communications committee is to administrate Rotary 13s social media presence.

1Agenda:Overview

Benefits/Risks

Examples of Rotary 13 social media

What you can do to start today

Here is whats on the agenda for this morning.

I am going to get you up to speed about what social media is and pick up from where Wes left off to discuss how it is used in business.

We are going to cover the benefits and risks of using social media.

I am going to show you examples of how I use social media for Rotary.

Finally, I will give you a detailed description of specifically how you can get started using social media today to achieve your marketing goals as part of your business plan.2What is Social Media?A tool in your marketing toolbox

Augments existing marketing plan

Provides means and opportunities to connect that otherwise would not be available

The most important thing to understand about using Social Media for business is that it is a marketing tool. Social media is not a marketing plan by itself, but works when used in conjunction with other marketing tactics as part of your marketing mix.

Social media augments your existing marketing plan by creating another way to reach your target audience that is relatively inexpensive and easily integrated into your existing processes.

It can enable you to reach market segments and niches that might otherwise be difficult to penetrate without changing anything fundamental about your overall marketing strategy.

3How to Benefit?Clearly-defined goals that fit with your marketing plan

Know who your target audience is and what they like

Choose the best platform(s)

Implement strategy and track results

The first, most important step take before even thinking about using social media for business is to have clearly-defined goals that fit with your marketing plan. Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Do you want people to come to your store and buy something? Do you want to set up sales calls or appointments? Do you just want an inexpensive way of staying in front of your target audience without being annoying?

When thinking of your social media marketing goals, consider who your target audience is, who you are trying to beat to get their attention and how you are going to beat them.

The next step is to determine which social media platforms to use. There are over a dozen social media platforms out there and each has its own niche function; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are just the most popular platforms and therefore the best place to start. In general, there is no single platform that works best in all circumstances. It just depends on the preferred means of communication of your target audience.

To be sure you are hitting the mark, track the responses to your social media strategy as part of your marketing plan. For instance, if your goal is to drive more traffic to your website, measure how much traffic you are already getting beforehand and compare that to the level of traffic you are getting after a period of time implementing social media. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter each have their own ways of communicating to you about who is engaging your content.

To demonstrate, here is what I have done to get Rotary 13 on social media and how the club has benefitted:

-Rotarys facebook page allows me to share news, photos, events and video with people who like the page. Anyone with a Facebook account can like the page and the people who do are a mostly an eclectic mix of Rotarians and non-Rotarians, so anything I can do to make the club seem fun and relevant to a non-member plus anything I can do to share information that members will care about is fair game for the facebook page.

- Rotary 13 on LinkedIn is a means for our members to have discussions with each other on topics that are relevant to Rotarians. It is permission-only group, meaning that you have to apply for approval from the administrator to join. This prevents abuse and adds a level of privacy that is not present on Rotary 13s facebook and twitter pages.

-Twitter has a broad reach but limited space for content. I use it to demonstrate Rotary 13s connections to Kansas City and Rotary International by sharing local news and posting links to articles about Rotarys accomplishments locally, nationally and internationally.

In every instance on each platform, I am posting information that is valuable to the target audience while engaging them and responding to their needs in real time.

4Why Not Just Email?Consumers choice

Social media networks are just a virtual extension of the grapevine

Empowers your target audience to come to you when they need your help, not the other way around

So why not just use email?

The difference is the consumers choice. Whereas direct marketing and advertising are based on reaching out to people and getting them to respond, social media works by allowing consumers to indicate which brands they already like and who they want to receive information from, effectively opting-in to receiving communications from these sources. Since there is a lot of leeway for building relationships and having conversations, there is no pressure to sell.

Word of mouth is still the best source for new business, and this is the same old grapevine just taken to another level. Here is an example of the difference between email and social media communications: I have a blog on my website that I write once a week on topics relating to small business marketing. I then email this blog entry to my email list but then I also post it on my facebook and LinkedIn accounts. When I am emailing the blog to people, I am reaching out to them and hoping they respond positively, but when I post the blog on facebook and LinkedIn, I am simply making the information available for anyone who might want to read it within a specific niche group. The benefit I enjoy from this strategy is the synergy of using multiple marketing tactics while maintaining consistency in my message, and as a result, prospects come to me.

The benefit to your audience is that social media empowers them to find your message on their own and to come to you (which beats cold-calling any day). Sounds good, right?

5Whats the Catch?Time

Trust

Whats the catch? Well, there are two of them, and they are big ones.

The first catch is the time investment. You cant just plug in to social media and get immediate results. You have to invest time and you have to engage in conversations. You have to be involved and you have to measure your success. But it isnt as difficult as it sounds. Before social media networking, what did we have? Regular networking. The only way to benefit from networking is to get involved, just like how you have to get involved in order to benefit from Rotary. Unless you go to meetings, join a committee, or volunteer on a regular to semi-regular basis, you arent going to get anything out of Rotary. This is the exact same concept. Consistently adding value in the form of your interactions and content is the only way to get something out of using social media.

Trust is also a factor because your social media efforts will contribute to the perception of your brand in the minds of your target audience. If you arent the one managing your social media strategy, make sure it is in the hands of someone you can trust with your companys image. 6Is it Safe?Privacy settings

Buy internet security software

If you wouldnt say it in front of your boss, your spouse or your mom, then dont say it on social media

Just like with regular networking, there might be certain elements of certain groups that youd just as soon have nothing to do with. But there are things you can do on social media to protect yourself that you cant do in real life. For instance, Facebook lets you single out individual profiles and blocks them from receiving any information pertaining to you without them knowing. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have privacy settings that are detailed and customizable enough to make it so that the only people who can see your information are people you trust.

We all know that the internet can be a dangerous place. There are bugs, viruses and scam artists. Individual comfort levels vary, but I never accept invitations to connect from people I dont know unless we have a mutual friend who I know in real life, and preferably several. Occasionally there are instances in which peoples accounts get hijacked, but that can be prevented by using solid passwords that are difficult to break. Using internet security software like Norton or McAfee is the best way to protect yourself.

But when it comes to the information you make available, it is also important to take personal responsibility and use common sense. Once you have customized your privacy settings, the next best thing to do is to avoid sharing anything that people do not need to know and that does not support the goals of your social media presence. Be careful about using disparaging remarks or things that people might find offensive. You dont have to be totally politically correct all the time, and honestly as a marketing guy I think that if you can get some extra attention by pushing the envelope it might be worth it, but dont go overboard. The rule of thumb is: if you wouldnt say it in front of your boss, your spouse, or your mom, then dont say it on social media.

7Protecting Your BrandDominos horror story

Google Alerts

Respond to complaints quickly and earnestly

Even when you have done everything you can to protect yourself and your brand, there are going to be people and events that can cause damage using social media. Your customers are going to share their experiences with their connections the same way they will share them with their neighbors. If they arent happy then they will let their connections know, and same with disgruntled employees. Not long ago, Dominos Pizza found itself in a huge crisis after a video posted on a social media site called YouTube showed employees filming themselves doing disgusting things to food that was on its way to customers. The video went viral (meaning that it became popular on the internet) and all of a sudden Dominos had a huge PR fiasco on its hands that started with two knuckleheads and a digital video camera. Instead of rolling over, Dominos used social media to implement a new PR campaign that emphasized cleanliness and accountability in their restaurants and in time the situation was largely diffused.

The moral of this story is that social media can help and hurt business, so you have to monitor what people are saying about your brand and you have to respond to customer complaints quickly and earnestly. One way to do this is to use Google Alerts. Google Alerts is an application that continually monitors the internet for content you specify (like anything mentioning your company name) and reports on anything it finds.

From a customer service perspective, using social media to give customers a place where they can complain and quickly have their complaints resolved could actually be very beneficial. The unhappy customer becomes a happy one again because you helped them, and their connections and your connections see that you handle complaints in a positive way.

8Its All AboutCommunication

Relationships

Creativity

Money

Ultimately, successfully utilizing social media to achieve your marketing goals as part of your business plan is a matter of communication: transmitting your message to the people you want to reach in order to influence them to take action on your behalf.

Instead of selling, social media is about building and fostering relationships between your brand and your target audience.

In order for your social media efforts to be effective, they must be creative. They must be different than what the competition is doing, and they must be relevant to the needs of your target audience, which will lead to greater esteem for your brand in the eyes of your target audience and increased knowledge about it in general.

Finally, there must be a way to get measurable ROI so that you can be sure your money and time is working for you.

9How to Get ConnectedFacebook

LinkedIn

Twitter

So how to get started? For facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, first you have to create an account. From there, the way you attract connections depends on the platform you are using. For facebook, you create an account that serves as your personal profile. You can then use the find friends link to type in names of people you know to send them friend requests. As people begin accepting your requests, find friends will show you profiles of people you have a lot of mutual connections with who you can then add and so on. For business purposes though, you will most likely want to create a facebook page. A page is different from a profile in that it represents an organization or entity and not necessarily a person unless they are a celebrity. Note that you must have created a profile before you can create a page. When you create a page, the important thing to keep in mind is that the content that is what will get people interested. You want photos and graphics that reflect your brand, such as your logo. The content you post will go on your Wall which is the information feed people will view when they see your page and on their main newsfeed when they first log in to facebook. The type of content you post depends on the marketing strategy you are using. For instance, a restaurant might post daily specials. An architect might post pictures of buildings they designed. A lawyer might post newsletters on topics relevant to their practice. It all just depends on what your goals are.

For LinkedIn, the process is similar. After signing up and creating a personal profile and looking up friends to send requests to connect (the equivalent of friending on facebook and following on Twitter), you should then create a company page to establish your companys presence on LinkedIn. However, the main benefit from using LinkedIn is going to come from joining groups and participating in discussions. For example, I am a member of the Kansas City Business Owners group. Periodically, I will read about what the members are discussing and if I know something about it or have at least an educated opinion, Ill throw my two cents in. This gets me in front of the person who started the discussion a...