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Social Media Marketing

Obviously social networking has been around forever but it wasn’t until Facebook that social media became a global marketing beast to be dealt with. Just as in the traditional sense, social networking in the digital era is how friends let friends know what they are thinking. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram exponentially increase word-of-mouth dissemination of information and the search engines have noticed. There are over 200 social networking sites and nearly 2 billion social network users. With the sheer volume of users and the increasing amount of time people are spending on these networks the search engines have started factoring social signals into their raking algorithms. Social signals are the activity pointers back to you and your website indicating how much people like share or talk about you or your brand. All of these things mean that you need to get social, but that is easier said than done, especially for small business owners. As a business owner you have to be very careful what you say online. Each industry has their own advertising guides and these same rules apply to social networks and review sites. So let’s breakdown the most common questions business owners have about going social

Which social site will work best for me?

The obvious answer is Facebook simply because of the volume of users and the ways in which you can reach those users. Another reason to consider Facebook first is because business owners do not typically use many images to sell their brand, unless you are a shop or ecommerce business. This makes utilizing image-based networks, such as Pinterest or Instagram difficult. However, there are other excellent social networks for small business owners such as LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn allows you and your employees to build professional profiles to connect and network with other professionals. Twitter allows you to reach large groups of people with small bites of information at a time. When deciding which social networks to use make sure that your small business profiles are totally separate and apart from your personal profile, if you use one.

What should I post?

Posting on social sites follows the same rules as posting content on your website. In fact a good habit to get into is to write an article for your website and post the link and brief description of that article to your social media page. Make sure that your posts are professional, fresh, and represent your brand well. You want people to like, comment on, and share your posts as much as possible. Though, as a business owner there are some things that you should not post. Do not post anything that falls under customer confidentiality, and do not post anything that violates any advertising guidelines your profession may have. If your business is involved in your community, charity organizations, or church, these are great things to post on your social media profiles. Good deeds are always noticed and respected.

When and how often should I post?

This is the trickiest of all the questions. There really is no exact time or exact number of times to post. This will vary based on your industry and your target market. There are however, lots of best practices and common sense strategies to follow. Posting late at night or early in the morning usually does not work well. Posting at lunchtime and later in the afternoon generally gets you more exposure. Posting too much will annoy people and posting too little makes you easy to forget. Each network has a different method for delivering information, so you will likely have to test your market to see when you get your best response. To some people the idea of social media marketing seems very overwhelming and time consuming. Just as with developing your website you may want to consider hiring a social media management company to handle your social marketing or at the very least use a social media marketing tool such as HootSuite. These companies and tools help you schedule and post to multiple social media sites at specific times.

The degree of impact that social media is having on the search engine results is debatable, however the fact that there is an impact is not. You need to integrate as many social sharing features as you can into your marketing strategy. This means adding social icons to your website, into your blog posts, and even in your offline advertising material. Do not be afraid to ask for likes or shares. Do not be afraid to put your content out there for others to read and comment on. Think of social media today as a cocktail party yesterday, except you don’t have to get dressed up. Now is the time to mingle.

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