Thursday, 8 April 2010

Jumping into social media

Social media (SM) is the new buzz for companies looking at attracting new and untapped revenue, but the opportunity for actually making money seems to be very hit and miss.

Possibly the most well-known of the big players are Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, but there are literally thousands of sites making up the landscape.

Each site has it's own niche group of users and its own niche market of consumers. It's therefore no great surprise that each needs to be leveraged differently, depending on your marketing goal and objectives. Although it heavily seems to favor the service industries more than say retail, there's examples of almost all industries doing well when the right strategy is used. Sometimes it's the combination of SM sites that form the full brand experience.

Here's a rundown of the 3 mentioned and how someone may use each to gain some exposure. In this example we'll use an imaginary company 'Bill's Photography'. We'll assume Bill is a freelance photographer working from his home in Cronulla trying to get more local projects.

Facebook
  • Bill would create a professional 'fan' site and post a selection of his work on the site (with due permission of course).
  • Bill gets his friends to become 'fans' of his business. This means that any time Billmakes an update to the section (either a text note or a new photo), his fans are notified.
  • Bill would 'tag' people in the photos who are then notified that a photo of them is online and they can make a comment on the photo. A note is made on a 'tagged' persons profile and in turn their friends can see the photo.
  • Bill's fanpage would link back to his main website which would list a more comprehensive portfolio and encourage people to hire him for specific services.
  • Adding new photos regularly will keep your name in front of your fans.
Since facebook relies heavily on the friend / acquaintance model, you need to work through your existing networks, and leverage the fact that your clients have loads of friends too, and many of them are likely to be in a similar location as your original client.

Twitter
  • Bill creates a twitter profile specifically for his business (keep business and personal tweeting separate).
  • Bill follows a number of globally well known people in his industry.
  • Bill follows as many local people as he can find.
  • Bill participates in conversations of people talking about photography and photography techniques.
  • Bill uses hashtags to index his services & post at least daily about a service that he offers.
  • Bill offers 'hot' time-sensitive deals which only last a few hours.
  • Bill searches for people talking about needing photographers and sends a short note if they're local or he can be of assistance in their specific case.
  • Bill uses a twitter application such as tweetdeck to manage his groups so he knows which are his hot local leads and which are just industry jabber.
  • Bill re-tweets interesting posts from the industry or tweets that others have made about him / his services.
Twitter is much more of an open global community than a closed local one, but there are generally groups of locals wherever you are. It may be people that follow a local radio station, or community groups. This can be a lot of work, but it can be a good exercise in networking. Just don't try to be a salesman - it doesn't go very far on twitter.

Linked In
  • Bill would create a detailed profile.
  • Bill would join industry specific and local groups.
  • Bill would write articles about his photography projects and maybe some case studies about the background to some of his work.
  • People in the groups would see Bill as a regular and active photographer, and his insight will help people see that he's not just a point and shoot guy, he really understands his profession.
LinkedIn is a lot more industry focused, but great for networking. Having a LinkedIn profile listed on your site can help clients see that you're interacting with the professional community.

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Some or all of the above may seem like a completely different language, and to a certain extent it is - even to people that use the services already.

In summary, Social Media relies on manual labour to actually generate anything meaningful, but since very few of your competitors are probably in the space utilising it, so you might as well start before they're all there and the strategy needs to adapt to the new climate.

Talk to us today about how you can leverage Social Media for your own business.