When first exposed to the idea of social networking, a lot of professionals marvel about how social is “free”. But is it really free?
Sure, you can sign up for any of the major services and then start interacting for no financial cost.
You can engage no investment whatsoever. But in the end, is it right to refer to social media effort as free?
SIMPLE ANSWER: NO
Social media needs to be fed time, effort, and dedication to get right. It's insufficient to launch a blog and test it out in a week or two, or even a month or two. You must commit for the long term. Quitting in less than six months is a waste of time and a travesty.
Given that social media is the product of interactions, you need to be present as well as active to derive value from it. How much is an hour of your time worth? That’s what you invest to participate in social media.
Quite a few small businesses aim to ignore the channel in whole when they realize it is not actually free. That is absolutely the wrong answer.
Social media marketing is worth your investment, no matter how little time and effort you can commit. If you can't take it on yourself, start reviewing external agencies or freelancers, and vend the entire program out to someone with experience in the field.
If want to manage it yourself, here are 5 tips to help you get the program off the ground with fewer roadbumps.
5 TIPS FOR STARTING OUT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
1. START SLOWLY
Get on only a couple of services and observe others at first. Don't over do it, or you are sure to find yourself overwhelmed before too long. Slow and steady will help you get your bearings before running full speed.
2. NO HARD SELLS!
Get involved, interact, and engage with others on social media, but don't just use it to push your products in front of anyone who will listen to you. There is a time and place for pitching. Casual social media relationships are the worst places to do it.
3. ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMMON INTERESTS
Find professionals in your industry and observe how they use social media. Pay attention what they are doing right. Exchange ideas, content of interest, and even referrals. You will be surprised to learn what a little “pay it forward” can bring back in return.
4. THINK LIKE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
People don't use social media to listen to sales pitches, as I mentioned above. They want to find you when you say or share something that grabs their attention. This is important to understand and focus on. It is also a great way to influence opinion, reinforce your brand or personal brand attributes, and establish expertise in your niche. Think about what your customers care about in the long run, and focus on that.
5. BECOME A CREDIBLE AND TRUSTED SOURCE IN YOUR FIELD
Position yourself as knowledgeable in your space. Share your content and curate that of others. People participate in social media for content and interactions. Be the provider they will hire when they have a problem you can fix – by being the person who proves his or her expertise when the customer is not ready to buy!
Social Media is important, but it most certainly is not free. Regardless of your experience with it, you simply cannot ignore social as a marketing or relationship-building channel. The five tips above are a basic blueprint for getting started.
Tommy Landry has over 20 years of business and marketing experience, with a deep knowledge of online marketing strategies such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) / Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC), Social Media, and Content Marketing. An avid entrepreneur, Tommy has been involved in founding three companies since 2001. His current business, Return On Now, helps B2B and B2C clients improve the visibility of their online presence and drive more leads through their websites.