Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Four steps to make social media work for your business

By Dream Local


I often get questions from business owners wondering how social media can work for them. Many say they have no time at all to utilize social media, and I completely understand – but share they are missing a huge opportunity. Others will have questions that go straight into tactics: “I posted x, y, and z on Facebook, but I only have 25 fans”, or “I post things all the time but no one comments”. Even though it may seem counterproductive, before I start to answer these questions I make them take a step back and talk to them about their overall strategy and business needs. Because social media marketing can be largely free, many people jump in and start using the tools without first putting together a plan of how they want this marketing to work for them, or without understanding its strengths and weaknesses. This often leads to wasted effort and less than stellar results. Let’s walk through the four steps you need to take to make social media work for you and your business.

1. First, it’s important to understand your existing business and what makes it tick. What kinds of customers add the most value? What products or services are the most profitable? What kinds of content and information do we have available that could be of interest – can we establish you as an expert or resource?

2. Determine your marketing goals. Are you trying to get more business from your ideal customers? Do we need to strengthen and build upon word of mouth and referrals? Generate buzz and keep you top of mind? Improve your site’s performance on search engines? Sell more of a particular product or service?

3. Third – it’s planning time! Many businesses approach marketing without a thoughtful plan. This can often lead to wasted resources. Since social media takes a considerable amount of time to do well, and you don’t want to waste your time. Consider the different ways that social media can enhance your overall marketing plan and help you achieve your goals, and develop content and posts to help support it.
For example, if you determine that your ideal customer is a small business owner with ten or less employees, and you have a considerable amount of expertise that can be leveraged, your social media strategy will likely include a blog and using tools like VillageSoup, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to promote that content. Your plan would have a series of ideas and then posts on how to get small business owners interested in your content, and then convert them to leads. For each business, this is different. At Dream Local, while we follow a tried and true formula for creating marketing plans, they are customized to each business because their needs and goals are all unique.
Questions to ask yourself when developing your plan:

See The Questions + Step 4 + Complete Article

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