How to Win Facebook Friends and Influence Tweeple

Posted on August 18, 2010

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Keep Twitter followers listening

Keep Social Media Users Listening by Knowing their Needs and Wants

Social networking sites have long played host to traditional forms of online advertising. Now that the medium has proven it’s here to stay, marketers and PR practioners are stepping in to reveal the full potential of social media in business. 

This post offers some insights into how business owners can form valuable networks with potential consumers and the broader community via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the myriad other social networks available. 

Yesterday – Tuesday, August 17, 2010 – Townsville business leaders attended a social media seminar designed to help open their minds to the marketing opportunities provided by social media sites. 

Being a new (and for the most part unknown) business owner I wasn’t invited to said seminar. Instead, I attended a workshop for the almost forgotten art of good ole face-to-face networking (here’s hoping my newly refined skills will get me on the guest list the next time a social media seminar rolls into town). 

Walking out of my networking seminar focused on fostering mutually beneficial (a fave PR term), valuable and sustainable networks only to hear that Townsville was likely to experience an influx in business-driven Facebook pages was a head-to-desk moment if there ever was one. 

The biggest mistake businesses can make in social media is to not establish a presence – one-in-four Aussies is now on Facebook and spends a considerable amount of time sifting through their news feed each day. The second biggest mistake businesses can make is to establish a social media presence only to treat whichever network they’re on like a one-way radio. 

Ask any PR practitioner what the key to PR is, and they’re likely to tell you that it’s to engage stakeholders not broadcast to them. Effectively engaging your target market will help to improve brand recall, increase consumer confidence and, ultimately, establish a lasting relationship between both parties. The following are a few tips to help your businesses get the best out of its social media activities. 

Know where your audience is. You wouldn’t run a TV commercial for My Little Pony during the Friday Night Footy, so why make the same mistake with social media? Before you dive in, do a bit of research and find out where the largest portion of your target market spends the most time. 

Don’t bombard people with ads dressed as status updates. Modern consumers are an intelligent breed and will see through your status updates like cellophane. What’s more, if your business is flooding news feeds with spam you will be blocked, unfriended and unfollowed faster than Chk-Chk-Boom went viral. 

Become a resource hub. Instead of constantly shouting out your current sales and blowing your own trumpet, provide people in your network with useful or interesting information that is relevant to your business. For example, a healthcare provider may post links to new health-related research; tips on keeping the cold and flu at bay and news stories about the latest innovations. Talking about your own business from time-to-time is fine, just don’t overdo it. 

Encourage interaction. There’s not a lot of value in a one-sided conversation (try having one with a friend or relative and see how quickly you disengage) so be sure to encourage your network to share its opinions and interact with your business through its social media strategy. Asking open-ended questions is a good way to get the ball rolling. You could also post photos from a recent open day or funny stories that are likely to get a reaction – just be mindful not to offend anyone. 

Reward people in your network. Rewards don’t necessarily need to be prizes or give-aways for doing nothing. Tie rewards into online engagement – consider a photo captioning competition, incentives for providing testimonials or simply acknowledgement via online conversation. Rewards can also help to move connections from online to in-store by offering network-only discounts or advanced notice of special deals. 

Remember, it is likely that you need the people in your network more than they need you. Understanding the needs and wants of your target market, a reacting accordingly, will help you to foster relationships that repeat business and referals depend upon. 

Happy networking. 




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