Quick and Dirty Tips to Improve your Social Media Marketing

With more than 500 million regular Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Citysearch users, maintaining a presence on these social media services is a no-brainer as part of your overall marketing strategy. Unfortunately, how to actually do it requires a little more consideration. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a few tips to tweak you social media marketing strategy to get better return on the time and effort you put into your social media management.

An Account is Not a Strategy – It’s tempting to think that because Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Citysearch offer free accounts and access to powerful marketing tools, that you can, with a few tweets or status updates, suddenly find yourself with 500 million new customers. But it doesn’t work like that. Social media marketing is much more about reputation management and connecting to your current customers before you can effectively spread your brand through social media services. Your best bet is to find an expert who knows the ins and outs of social media management, and who can adapt them to the unique needs and goals of your business.

Bring Facebook to your site – Since Facebook Connect launched in 2008, users don’t have to actually go to Facebook.com to be on Facebook. They are essentially “always on,” meaning they can “like” posts, articles, videos, and just about anything else they find on the internet. Adding “like” buttons to your product descriptions and other website features is a fast and easy way to let your customers instantly share your business with their social network. Letting your users market to their friends for you is one of the most basic and powerful methods of social media marketing.

If you want to take it a little further, you can bring your customers’ Facebook feeds to your website with the Like Box. With just a little cut and paste coding (which you will find at the link), you can add the Like Box to your site so that your users can keep up to date with their feeds without navigating away from your site. Having a little piece of the web’s most popular social media services on your website can only improve your customers’ experience.

Harness the Power of Facebook Ads… – Facebook offers two types of advertisements: Marketplace and Premium ads. If you’re just getting started in social media marketing, you probably want to test the waters with Marketplace ads so you can get the hang of keyword-focused marketing. Marketplace ads are short ads that appear based on keyword searches, locations, and user demographics. They can drive traffic either to your Facebook business page or directly to your website. The average CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of a Facebook ad is about $.25, so it is a cost-effective way to get your message out there.

…But Don’t Count on Them – According to a recent report by social media marketing analysts Webtrends, clickthrough rates for Facebook ads are pretty low, averaging only 0.051 percent in 2010. For the math-impaired, that is just over one-half of one-tenth of one percent. There are two things to keep in mind about that number though. First is that the CPM price for Facebook marketplace ads is per one thousand views. So for every thousand views, you pay an average of $0.25, for about five clicks. Five pairs of eyes for a quarter is a pretty good deal, even if they don’t all turn out to be buyers. The second thing to keep in mind is that Facebook is not just a platform for advertisements. The key to effective social media marketing is the “social” part. Get your current customers to connect to your Facebook business page and let them disseminate your message through their networks. Get conversations going about the parts of your business that excite you, and you can excite your customers and grow your brand. Brand growth, far more than actual sales, is the primary focus of social media marketing.

Tweet Responsibly – Using Twitter can be a great way to keep your customers in touch with what’s going on at your business right now. But as with any social media tool, there are users (including business users) who mistakenly think that all of their followers care about every move they make and every random thought that occurs to them. People use Twitter to get relevant both relevant information and random thoughts, but over tweeting contributes to noise on your followers feeds, and can even cause them to stop following you. On the other hand, you don’t want to tweet too little and leave your followers in the dark. The best strategy is to set a range of tweets (typically between five and ten, depending on what comes up) to stay within every day. Some days you’ll have a lot to share, and you’ll go over. Other days will be slow or too busy to tweet, and you’ll fall short. That’s okay, this isn’t set in stone, it’s just a broad goal. That way your followers know you’re out there, but they don’t overdose on information.

Ride the wave… – Social media services like Facebook and Twitter are fundamentally trend-driven. Memes, topics of conversation, and other trends can come out of nowhere and dominate the services for days, weeks, or even months. Don’t be afraid to get involved with these topics, even on your business feed and Facebook business page. Offering your opinion or a clever response on a trending topic shows your customers that you’re also following the things that matter to them. Expressing condolences for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, or support for the Middle East uprisings, or even an amusing remark about Charlie Sheen’s public craziness, can be a smart part of your social media management strategy. It shows your customers that your company is more than a brand; that you are also made up of people like them.

…But Don’t Get Dragged Under – Any surfer will tell you that any feeling of control on the waves is an illusion. Facebook and Twitter are bigger than individual users, and if you try to cash in on a larger event, you can find the wave turning back on you very quickly. Take the cautionary tale of Kenneth Cole, who tried to use the early days of the Egyptian riots to promote his spring shoe line. Rather then helping his brand, it pissed just about everyone off. He had to issue an apology and remove the tweet, but the PR damage was done. Even a month later, the top Google autocomplete term for Kenneth Cole is ‘tweet.’ If you are going to comment on a trend that is outside of your industry or area of expertise, just do it as a regular citizen, and let your username or Facebook business page do the rest.

Manage Your Reputation on Yelp and Citysearch – Having a Twitter feed and Facebook business page are essential parts of social media management, but they are not the only places to focus when you are crafting your social media marketing strategy. Yelp and Citysearch are among the first places people go when they are looking for local businesses, particularly restaurants and shops. Both Yelp and Citysearch allow users to rate businesses, and write detailed reviews of the products and services available there. Users value Yelp and Citysearch because they can get a range of opinions on a business from other users who have worked with them, rather than just getting the one-sided marketing line from the business itself.

But just because users can tell each other about your business, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take steps to manage your reputation on Yelp and Citysearch. The first thing you should do on both Citysearch and Yelp is to input your businesses pertinent details, such as specific address, contact information, and hours of operation, so that the maps are accurate, and users know they have the right place. You should also upload some pictures of your business, at very least the front view that users will see from the street. Pictures of your interior, food, or products also help give users a good impression when they click on your listing.

Get Active on Yelp and Citysearch – You can content yourself with making sure the details and photos on Citysearch and yelp are accurate, but taking an active role in these communities is an easy and effective social media marketing tactic. You can offer exclusive deals and coupons to entice customers, and interact with customers who leave reviews of your business. Both Yelp and Citysearch give you powerful tools for knowing how many users visit your entry and where they are, so you can target your conventional and social media marketing more effectively. Best of all, Citysearch and Yelp both integrate with both your Twitter feed and your Facebook business page, so potential customers can easily become potential followers and potential fans.

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