By Robyn Levin, President
R. Levin Marketing Group
Are you overwhelmed with all the social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube) and trying to figure out how to incorporate these tools into your marketing mix? You’re not alone. Many clients often ask me how much time should they devote to social media marketing for business purposes and what’s the ROI. These are very good questions. My suggestion is to devote 30 minutes per day to social networking for brand building, getting referrals and to test the waters. You can’t possibly know if something is effective or useless until you try it for your own business. Best marketing practices include using a combination of social networking sites and other tools like online video, PR, blogs and Webinar marketing, and you’ll improve your results. The key is to think strategically and make it meaningful.
Most professionals want to increase sales and online visibility and those of you in this category should consider using Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube as your main social networking choices. Facebook has some good applications too, like Facebook Connect, however, I’ve found this to benefit big brands in particular. For example, Ben & Jerry’s promotes new flavors and solicits votes for brand building and to drive traffic to their stores through their “fan” page on Facebook. If you can think of a promotion and tie it into a major cause, this could be effective for you. Remember how CNN promoted the presidential election campaign using Facebook and Twitter to disseminate information to their audiences? CNN’s screen still says, “Follow us on Twitter” and, by following, I’m able to keep track of breaking news.
I’ve been using Twitter since the summer of 2008, mostly for business purposes like networking, brand building, sharing news, marketing tips, stats, new products, events and for following trending real-time information. Check out Twitter’s “trending topics” to quickly track the most popular topics. Breaking news often appears first on Twitter. Why? Because that’s where the reporters and the media think their audience can be found. Think about your own behavior. Have you noticed a change in the way you consume your news and information? If so, your customers are probably experiencing the same. Just the other day, my 95-year-old aunt asked how to go on Twitter because she wanted to keep her friends and family abreast of her surgery. She already uses AOL for e-mail. She may set a record for the oldest tweeter and it goes to show you that all ages are using social networking sites.
How Twitter will change the way we live, according to TIME Magazine
Time Magazine just featured a Twitter post on the June 5th front cover issue that said, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live.” The article points out, “it’s just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.” It takes five to seven times to repeat your marketing message before most people take action and social networking can make this easier for you.
These services are free communication tools and you can easily stay abreast of news and industry data, but you can also share your insights and expertise. Did you ever notice how all these social media Web sites have a search box? Everything begins with “search” — whether you’re using Google, YouTube or Twitter — and the most recent statistics show the YouTube’s has become the second largest search site on the Internet. Many users are searching for “how-to videos” and you could be the professional they find and need. You can easily establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of specialty and people will start to follow you based on the terms you use in your tweets or blog posts. It’s also easy to search and find followers on Twitter, as it’s all about what are you doing now?.
Thirty minutes per day
My social media marketing strategy is for brand building and to increase sales and visibility. First, you need to know your target market. Mine are baby boomer business owners, CEO entrepreneurs, self-employed and marketing professionals looking for integrated marketing campaigns and more visibility using online PR. They are typically involved in private equity, investment real estate and financial and professional services. My posts and tweets are usually around money and marketing/PR — my specialties. Are you marketing to baby boomers, affluent seniors, self-employed professionals, or physicians? More than likely, they are using these sites to find timely information and they could be finding you.
How often do I use Twitter? I use Apple’s iPhone app- Twitterfon (it’s free) on my morning Ferry commute to my office and a few times during the day. It’s similar to how I check my stocks and read Bloomberg News. You can also conduct fast research, using the search function. I find this very effective to get facts or current news for articles and/or PR stories I’m writing.
TIP: You’ll definitely see a spike in your blog/Web site traffic when you add links to all your posts, tweets, Web site, and all other online tools. For example, I’ve been producing and hosting Webinars for four years and consistently attract more than 200 callers each month. I teach these tips and strategies in my MP3 series on Webinar Marketing. My last speaker got 21 qualified leads and only spoke for seven minutes. I posted the link to the Webinar on Twitter and LinkedIn and tracked 78 clicks from people that signed up for the Webinar. This is more effective than expensive direct mail that is difficult to track. Think of these tools as supplemental to your existing marketing mix, if you want to try some testing. I’d recommend that you experiment with routine updates consistently for two to three months, before you decide if it’s worthwhile or not.
If you need help getting clear about your marketing, check out my four-step system: Cocktail Napkin Marketing Plan e-Book and Interactive Template that generates a custom marketing plan for you, in less time than a short plane ride.
Simple social networking strategy for starters
Pick a few social networking sites, like the ones I mentioned above and do the following:
- Update your blog w/ interesting news, commentary and/or stats
- Create accounts and monitor the online conversation to observe first
- Grab or create a link and post it on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
- Make an educational two to five minute movie on YouTube
- Copy the link and post it on your blog
- Make a Tweet and include the link
- Post the video and link on LinkedIn and Facebook
- Track your results
Are you using Twitter to tell everyone what you are doing or do you use it more for business? Think about what you want to share when you see the box, “What are you doing?”
- Hosting an upcoming event or Webinar
- Writing a new blog post
- Writing an article or press release
- Sharing breaking news, industry trends, etc.
- Re-tweet someone else’s tweet or link
Keep these tips in mind to make it easier on yourself: Write some ideas ahead of time like I do for my blog updates and keep a file/folder for them. Make or share a video and post it on YouTube and other video sharing sites. Post and track your links on LinkedIn, Twitter, blog, articles and Website. Integrate your work so you work less.
Follow me on Twitter.com/robynlevin and don’t forget to update your own e-mail signature to help you build your social networking audience.