In a way, the growth of social networking is a bit like the latest “gold rush” for online marketers – a new way of reaching hundreds of millions of potential customers, just like search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and e-mail newsletters were in the past.
But even though sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can be a gateway to more business, to use them as a marketing avenue alone kind of misses the point. That’s because, at their core, what makes social media sites so interesting and effective isn’t that they give us another way to reach out and sell to people… but that they give us a chance to do so much more.
The real goal of your social network marketing plan shouldn’t be to increase sales this month, or new accounts this quarter. It should be to let your customers get to know you – and vice versa – in a way that wouldn’t have been possible through newsletters, advertisements, and other traditional forms of online and off-line marketing.
To some, this will sound a lot like branding, and we suppose that it probably is. But don’t forget that the goal of branding is to create customers for life. If social media marketing lets us accomplish that in a way that doesn’t require us to obsess over logos or hire expensive consultants, shouldn’t we embrace that?
The point is that social media can be a great way for deepening client relationships, but only if we use it as more than a megaphone for advertising. Here are a few tips to get you started on getting more out of social networking sites:
Don’t just sell, communicate back and forth. Rather than battering people with advertising messages and offers to buy, try starting and maintaining conversations. The more dialogue you create, the deeper relationship you’re going to be able to enjoy with customers and potential customers.
Invite feedback. Maybe one of the most underrated benefits of a strong social networking plan is that it can encourage customers, vendors, and colleagues to open up and give you greater insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your business.
Be friendly. Your network should always be growing and expanding. Take a little bit of time every day, or at least every week, to see if there are more potential customers, industry contacts, and other people you can bring into your social media circle.
Emphasize content and advice. Whether they are on social media sites or not, one thing web users love is a good source of information and guidance. While sites and profiles that only advertise are rarely bookmarked or returned to, ones that offer expert opinions and guidance become a trusted resource.
Wish your social media marketing plan was more comprehensive? Get in touch with us at Marcy Design to see how we can turn your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts into a new way to get to know the people you do business with.