When you step back at the end of the year and think about the past 12 months of business, you can always find a laundry list of things you would have changed. The majority of those make their way onto your business New Year’s resolutions list. One area that is often highlighted, yet almost always ignored by small and medium size businesses is social media. Not just setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account and updating here and there. I’m talking about a comprehensive social media strategy that can increase SEO, drive sales leads, and help monitor and manage online reputation. As you begin to put together your business plans for next year, be sure you jot down these social media pitfalls to avoid in 2013:
Social Media Marketing without a Strategy
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A social media marketing strategy ensures your efforts aren’t a waste of time. It may be free to join, but it takes a significant amount of time and energy to see the ROI of your social media efforts. A good social media strategy includes content planning, reputation management, community growth, and including everyone in the effort. Unless you run the business yourself, there’s no reason why it should be handled by just one person – especially when all your employees are part of the brand and contribute to what your company means to people. Put together your social strategy first, then train your employees on how to carry out the strategy.
Failing to Manage Online Sentiment
Almost two-thirds of consumers have already used social media to express their customer service issues; while a study found that over half of top brands ignored all customers comments on their Facebook Page in 2011.
Do you know what your prospects and customers are saying about you?
Reputation management is the process of building, maintaining, and recovering the public’s perception of your business. Previously, this was something big business outsourced to public relations firms to monitor the heavy scrutiny from the media and the public. Nowadays, thanks to the social media and local online business directories, businesses of all sizes are constantly talked about, both good and bad, by anyone and everyone. With more and more people sharing their 2 cents in more ways than ever before, it’s time to take control of your online reputation. Here are three ways to begin managing your online sentiment:
1. Monitor: As your first step, you must respond and manage online comments to fully understand what is being said about your brand online. Google recently launched a free tool, “Me on the Web” that allows small businesses to monitor online sentiment more easily. Google Alerts is another powerful free tool that will alert you when any newly added reviews are posted online. Lastly, ss a part of your social media strategy we previously mentioned, don’t forget to monitor Facebook and Twitter. Use Facebook’s search feature and set up custom keyword search streams within Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to monitor those tweeting about your business.
2. Engage: It’s important to respond to reviews – negative, positive, or otherwise. It shows an understanding of the business and the courtesy warranted by your customers. Depending on the platform the review is posted on, you should always respond in a customer service manner so that other consumers will see that you stand behind your brand.
3. Influencing the Influencers: No matter your industry, the Internet is full of influential websites, bloggers, reviewers, and social media stars that can truly take your business to the next level. The formula is simple: get in good with a heavy influencers and they’ll positively promote or cover your business. Their legion of followers will read these reviews and act accordingly. This formula is extremely powerful for types and sizes of business. Remember though, it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are some strict rules to follow when beginning to cultivate influencers. If done correctly, you will see the power of word-of-mouth drive leads and sales for your business.
Additional free resources for optimizing your social media strategy and managing online sentiment:
- Understanding Facebook and its Users
- Engage Your Social Fans with Promotions
- Optimize Your Business Website For Local Search
- Plus many more!
There are definitely many more social media “dont’s” to avoid next year. What are some other things SMB’s should avoid in the social media and Internet marketing world? Share them with us below in the comments!