By Susan Gunelius
RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011—(eM+C)—In just a few short years, social media marketing has gone from a fun task experienced by a few to a daily part of hundreds of millions of peoples’ lives. For marketers, having a presence on the social Web and developing an audience of online brand advocates is no longer an ancillary marketing project, it’s a strategic imperative. If your brand isn’t there, a competitor will be more than happy to take your place in the social Web conversation and community.
Don’t worry if your brand doesn’t already have a social Web presence. There’s still time to make your presence known, but every day you wait is a wasted opportunity. The steps below, from 30-Minute Social Media Marketing will help you jump-start your journey into the world of social media.
1. Identify your ultimate goals. What are your ultimate business and brand goals? If you don’t know where you want to go, you can’t figure out how to get there. Don’t waste time and effort by taking the wrong path.
2. Determine your brand’s image, message and promise. Decide what you want your brand to stand for in consumers’ minds, then participate in activities, conversations and communities that accurately reflect that vision.
3. Find your best audience. Conduct keyword searches as if you were a potential customer of your company. Follow the links and look for social sites where your target audience already spends time. Join the conversations and start to build your network of online connections.
4. Create messages that consistently communicate your brand promise to draw your audience in. Once you find and build relationships with your target audience on the sites where they already spend time, you can then start to bring them back to your own website, blog, Facebook page, etc. It’s there that you can share more of your content and deepen your relationship with them.
5. Diversify your social media presence to broaden your audience. Offer varied ways for people to experience and engage with your brand online. Some people like to read blogs, others prefer Twitter updates and still others prefer viewing videos. By offering different ways for people to connect with you and consume your content and conversations, your audience of online followers will broaden.
6. Join the conversations and build your network of brand advocates. If you build it, they won’t come. You need to continually go out and find your audience, share their content, join their conversations and ultimately give more than you receive to be successful on the social Web.
7. Allow the online community to take control of the conversation. If you try to control the online conversation about your business or brand, you’ll destroy most of your social media marketing efforts. Give up control, let the conversation flow and you’ll benefit from word-of-mouth marketing that money can’t buy.
8. Be real, honest, accessible, engaging and true to your brand promise. If your online content and conversations sound like you’re reading from a corporate brochure or manual, no one will want to engage with you on the social Web. Be personable and remember you’re not there to self-promote, but rather to build relationships that can deliver word-of-mouth marketing and sustainable long-term business growth.
9. Test and analyze results…then try again. Social media marketing is still in its infancy; there’s no recipe for success yet. New tools are introduced all the time. What you’re doing today might not be right tomorrow.
10. Be consistent and don’t give up. The three primary steps to branding are consistency, persistence and restraint. Follow those steps in your social media marketing efforts every day and be prepared to commit for the long haul. Patience is rewarded on the social Web.
Susan Gunelius is president and CEO of KeySplash Creative, a marketing communications company and author of 30-Minute Social Media Marketing.
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