So you’ve given Social Media Marketing (SMM) a go, probably for a reasonable amount time now. But, if you are like so many others you are frustrated with your luke-warm results. SMM, like anything else takes a serious commitment, not only a time commitment but also in effort. The new year is coming up and its time to start anew; a time to put your SMM previous successes (and failures) behind you—and to see some tangible results from your endeavors.
For the new year in 2012 we have a list of best practices to help you boost your SMM strategy and success:
- Create a Community…a Real OneThe complaint most heard from small businesses with their SMM efforts is that they can’t seem to translate their online results offline; they have 2,000 new followers this year on their business page but none in real life. The best way to see real results from social marketing is by creating a REAL community. Involve your real neighbors in your online community–support your local charities, promote your local entrepreneurial brethren, run community-oriented contests, host community events etc. Bring the online, offline—by connecting it to something real.
- Become an ExpertMany marketers believe that simply posting content and funny pictures is enough. It isn’t. In order to become a go-to place for your viewers/customers you need to be an expert in your vertical. For example if your running a Facebook page for a local hardware shop you need your community posting and answering questions and how-to comments on your page. This will help you grow your focus and improve the relationships you have with your existing users. LinkedIn Answers is a fantastic tool to use to raise your expert status online.
- Use Analytical Tools
The best way to plan for the future is by examining your SMM past. Leverage one of the many SMM analytical tools out there that can tell you what content is shared and retweeted the most, what posts are commented on the most, etc. Analytical tools are CRITICAL to SMM success. There are many available, so look for the one that covers all the networks you use and has the tools you are looking for. These days analytical tools are surprisingly easy to use so don’t worry about them being too technical—they aren’t. For 2012 we highly recommend looking back on 2010 and 2011—find out where you improved already and where you can still improve.
- Keep your Friends Close—but Enemies CloserIn addition to doing your research with analytical tools, do your competitive research. If you don’t know what your competition is doing how can you hope to beat them? Knowing what your competition is doing will help you one-up them. You have likely heard this advice before, but this is the time to act on. Do this regularly throughout 2012.
- Look to the ProsThe biggest brands on the planets aren’t the biggest by accident—they invest millions of dollars in marketing and branding. You don’t h/ave millions of dollars like they do, but you don’t need it—simply look at what their millions of dollars of market research is churning out, then do what they are doing.
- Know your ToolsSMM has gone far beyond simply setting up a Facebook page. You now have Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, most-recently Google+, and many many more. Be sure that you are following the new sites coming out, and the new tools. Be smart about your SMM and leverage tools like social dashboards that can help you automatically update all your sites with one button. Work smarter, not harder in 2012.
- Leave a Calling CardParticipating in discussions, chats, posts and comments is all well and good but you need to include a calling card to let people know what your business is all about. For example if you run a gluten-free shop you should be participating in discussions and forums on the topic and inserting your products, advice and most importantly—contact info/social media pages.
Despite the fact the world might end in 2012, try to stay ahead of the SMM game anyways. If we do survive whatever apocalyptic holocaust is on the horizon in 2012 then it will be a SMM survival of the fittest for those left . Make 2012 the year that your social media marketing efforts finally come to fruition.