You’ve decided that it’s time to give your brand some exercise on the web. And doing this in-house is the best way to do it. But as you start to train for the big event, you start to see some hurdles in your path. With proper planning and action, these hurdles can be overcome.
Hurdle #1: Isn’t social media the same thing as search engine optimization?
Social media and search engine optimization can certainly go hand in hand, but they’re definitely not the same thing. Social media requires a lot more personal attention and focuses more on building relationships with your clients and customers.
Hurdle #2: There are so many social media sites out there, how do I know which ones to use?
The answer to this depends on what kind of company you have and what type of market you’re trying to target. However, consider penetration. With sites like Facebook and Twitter taking over the Internet, can you afford not to be there?
Hurdle #3: My company’s name is taken on the social media sites, what do I do?
Get in contact with the network’s help desk. You can bet that they’ve dealt with such a situation before and likely have a policy in place. My tip: When you contact them, use a corporate email address. It will give you tons more credibility in your request.
Hurdle #4: What area of the company does social media fall under?
Search Engine Optimization is one of those things that seems to float between IT and Marketing, and social media isn’t any different. However, given the more intimate setting of conversation and relationship building, it’s probably best managed by your communications department.
Hurdle #5: What do I do with all these social media accounts?
The thing about social media is that it can very easily consume your day – your nights and weekends too. The best idea is to set up a schedule, ensuring that you’re monitoring each account regularly. Allocate time based on the investment in the network. For example, you would probably allocate more time (and daily) to Twitter than you could a smaller network, possibly allocating time weekly, or every couple of days.
Hurdle #6: How can I monetize all this new publicity?
I want to stress that social media is a really successful communications tool, and awesome for relationship building with your customers. However, you can absolutely use it to bring in sales. There’s nothing wrong with posting about awesome promotions or sales, as long as it’s not the only thing you’re using it for. Also, by monitoring what people are saying about your niche, there are tons of opportunities to bring in new customers. Check out this story about how Tony & Alba Stole $75 From Jake on Twitter.
Almost 60% of Americans judge a company by their online presence. Now, how many companies actually use their brand to its fullest potential online? One of the greatest myths about online brand management is that only technology or marketing companies can do this effectively. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Zappos.com is a fine example of an online retailer using Twitter to reach out to their customers, both existing and potential. By using Twitter, Zappos effectively brings a human quality to what sometimes can seem like just another computer account.
Of course, the bigger your brand the more legwork you may have to do. For instance, one issue that companies are running into is brand name squatting. This is happening all over various social media outlets as big brand usernames are being snapped up, left unused, or even worse, being used maliciously. The first thing you should do is obtain all the brand accounts you can. Check out www.knowem.com to see if your brand name has been taken at many popular social networks.
Remember that social media is a relationship-building and conversational tool. You should be watching what people are saying about your niche and your company. You should be chatting with the people who are talking about it. Address as many comments as you can, both good and bad. Most important, be an ambassador for your company – bring home the gold medal.
Lyndsay Blahut is the Director of Online Marketing at Canada’s Web Shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.