Social media is the newest and best way to increase web word-of-mouth about your brand. It is quickly becoming the most effective way to drive traffic to company websites and improve search engine ranking through social signals (likes, shares, votes, pins, or views). Like any other marketing method, social media use needs to be strategic. It does little good for a company to have largely inactive pages on every possible social media platform. Small businesses can use social media to create buzz about their brand and even increase sales, but choosing the right sites to engage with is key.
While “likes” are great, interactivity is the name of the game. The better engaged a customer is with your company’s social media pages, the more posts they will write interacting with and related to your brand. Customers place huge trust in their social circles when it comes to purchase decisions, so gaining these “Brand Ambassadors” is invaluable. Additionally, when a company garners a lot of reviews on Google, its website is pushed higher in generic search results because Google interprets it as being a “reliable site.”
Facebook is a platform that is hard to ignore, but businesses have to be smart about how they break into the colossal site. A company’s Facebook page essentially works as an extension of its own website. It provides information about the brand and engages “fans” with both original and shared multimedia content. Companies run into problems on Facebook, however, when posts aim only to sell a product. Since Facebook is so community oriented, engaging “fans” through questions and other interactive posts will create “Brand Ambassadors” that will promote your brand on their own volition.
Google+ is hugely important for businesses today because of its incredible rate of growth. Many people underestimate its influence compared to sites they feel are more mainstream, but with 359 million active users, “(Google+) continues to outpace Twitter as the world’s number two social network,” according to Business Insider. The biggest advantage Google+ has over other sites is its parent company. Creating a profile for your business on Google+ gives you the capability of seriously increasing your company’s search engine ranking. Additionally, it is hugely beneficial to keep company information, like store hours and location, up-to-date on Google+. When you update information on your company’s Google+ profile, changes will be reflected on Google search results within 24 hours. A lot of the content is similar to what’s on Facebook, but companies can target their content to the people its meant for by sharing only with specific circles. Google+ also offers companies the ability to get creative with human media. Hangouts are real-time video conversations with up to nine other people that companies can use creatively to feature products, chat with customers, hold conference calls… the possibilities are endless.
It is important to take Twitter’s ephemeral nature into account when determining which site is right for each kind of post. Tweets remain effective for a mere 90 minutes. It is most effective to use Twitter to release news about your company, including new website content, product information, or special offers.
For small businesses, the capability of making business connections through shared networks on LinkedIn can be invaluable. While LinkedIn is used predominantly for business to business (B2B) communication, companies can also use it to engage customers looking to network and engage with other professionals in their industry.
Businesses can post compelling visuals of their products on their Pinterest boards and greatly increase awareness of the company through “repins.” Best of all, Pinterest often leads to sales. Pinterest directly links users to your company’s site, which makes e-commerce simple and easy for users. Since Pinterest is arguably the most visually-driven social media platform for businesses, the image needs to say it all. Businesses can post eye-catching images of new products to create buzz, or promote special offers or sales through graphic coupons.
Find the Site that Fits
Keeping up with the evolution and development of social media sites is a vital part of marketing today. Social media is a way of connecting with your target market in the places they are already spending their time. The benefits of engaging with consumers on social media are limitless; it is simply a matter of choosing the sites that will best serve the needs of your company and its customers.
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