Top 5 tips for SMEs that are just starting out with social media

Social

In the first of a series of articles by Arekibo designed to demystify social media for SMEs John Cross, an accounts and project manager with Arekibo, starts at the very beginning.  He looks at five key points SMEs should be aware of when taking their very first steps on the social web. 

I have been working as an accounts and project manager for the past two years and been involved in web development for the previous four. So, in this time my career has followed the rapid expansion of social media. One of the areas I have followed closely has been the use of social networking sites as professional marketing tools.

As you would expect, over the past six years we have seen hugely successful campaigns, not to mention some absolute failures. So, what makes a social media marketing campaign successful?

1. Multiple Media: While a social media marketing campaign is a great idea, it is important to do a bit of research into the media you will be using before starting. Failure to do so could spell disaster for your entire campaign. What you will need to figure out is, which social networks are your target audience using.  Such research is more important than you might think, did you know that Facebook’s fastest growing group of users is women over the age of 50? Once you have found this it is probably best to choose the top three and focus your attention on them. Trying to cater for all networks will be too time consuming and may not provide a strong return on investment. You will find that your target audience is spread over a number of social networks, therefore by targeting a small number of different networks you can maximise the returns, both in terms of finances and public relations, of the campaign.


2. Offers/Competitions:
One of the best ways to grab the attention of your audience is to offer them something, or to run a competition for them to enter. One SME that uses this method very successfully is Animology, an English pet grooming company. In the past month they have started running a ‘groomer of the month’ competition on Facebook. They also offer a free sample of their products to interested parties. The success can be measured by the amount of Likes their Facebook page has received (more than a thousand in the last 3 months). As you can see it’s a very simple but effective way of increasing their product awareness and gaining new customers.


3. Regular Posting:
It’s all fine and well to start a social media campaign but how do you keep your audience interested and how do you keep them coming back? It’s quite simple really; regularly post updates and information. This will ensure your content appears in your followers’ and fans’ feeds and as a result will keep your company in your audience’s minds.  Failure to do this will mean your campaign will finish the same day that it is launched.


4. Engaging with your audience:
Another extremely important point when running a social media campaign is to constantly engage with your audience. Regular posting is fine but what you are really looking to achieve is to have your audience posting to your social media channels with questions and comments. This kind of engagement is crucial because it shows that your campaign is working and is gathering interest with your audience.


5. Branding:
Branding your campaign is a must as it is your company that you want stick in your customers’ minds.  When it comes to placing your company’s brand on your social networking sites you are often quite limited.  Twitter allows you to alter everything from the page background image, to the colours of individual links but sites such as Facebook only allow you to edit a profile image (Facebook Apps allow you to add some creativity to your page, but these are more difficult to create).  Your social media branding needs to be consistent with the branding of your company – not changing your Twitter account’s style or not putting up a Facebook profile image that accurately represents your brand is tantamount to releasing a business card with no contact details.

Essentially, the aim of your social media marketing campaign is the same as with any advert; to have your company stick in your customers’ minds. However, the great difference with social media is that it allows you to build a rapport with your client base by interacting with them. This is surely more powerful than any advert and is the main reason why we should take social media seriously and give it the thought it deserves.

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