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Why and How to Use Social Media

social media iconsSocial media is the most powerful communication tool in the world today. American spend 3 times as much on time social media and blogs than they do on email. Let’s face it — if you’re not taking advantage of social media, your competition probably is.

But how do you manage social media? Where to start? Most importantly, how do you know it’s working?

Let’s start with the basics: What are the top five social media networks used by businesses online?

  • Facebook – The world’s #1 social network, Facebook has over 1 billion monthly users worldwide! If your business is on just one social network, Facebook is the best option for sharing pictures, blog posts, and other updates with your core fan base. Increase your exposure through likes, comments, and shares.
  • Twitter – One of the Top 10 sites on the Internet, Twitter made ‘tweet’ part of everyday language. Update your followers in 140 characters or less! Get your message retweeted to reach a new audience.
  • LinkedIn – The premier social networking site for businesses, LinkedIn helps you network with your professional contacts. Participate in industry groups to ask questions, get feedback, and spread your message.
  • Google+ – Google’s answer to the social networking craze, Google+ features status updates, video conferencing (a.k.a. “Hangout”), and Circles to help you organize and update your network. Since Google+ is integrated with Google’s search engine, it’s critical for your business to be listed on Google+.
  • YouTubeYouTube is the place to upload, view, and share videos. It is the primary provider of video content online and a great way to show what happens “behind the scenes” of your business. YouTube is another great tool for getting discovered because it is integrated with Google’s search engine.

The Benefits of Social Media

Social media is first and foremost a communication tool. It allows you to instantly share information with your base, and also get immediate feedback on new ideas or products. No need to wait for the press or for mailings to come back.

Social media is also a tool for growing your base, building brand awareness, reaching new customers. A carefully crafted message will encourage people to share it, giving you the potential to “go viral.”

Finally, being on social media helps drive traffic to your website. By increasing the number of links that point to your website, search engines determine that your site is a critical source of information and will place it higher in search engine results.

Authenticity is Key

Social networking is all about genuine connections and relationships. Customers can tell the difference between posts that are generic and those that are authentic. They are attracted to authenticity and creativity, and are more likely to engage with posts that are interesting and relevant. More engagement translates to more leads and more sales.

Some tips for writing engaging posts:

  • Ask questions
  • Use fill-in-the-blank
  • Post photos and videos
  • Share relevant news articles
  • Link to your latest blog post

Be sure to include a call to action! Ask your fans to like, comment, or share your post, subscribe to your newsletter, or contact you for a consultation. The more you can get your fans to engage, the more successful your post will be.

So how do you keep track of the different social media platforms?

Social Media Management Software

A number of vendors offer social media management systems that help track your social media networks. Many offer free basic accounts as well as premium subscriptions with more features for a monthly fee. These are a few of my favorites:

  • HootSuiteHootSuite allows you to monitor different social media feeds and schedule posts. The free version allows you to connect to up to five social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and includes basic reporting features.
  • TweetDeckTweetDeck helps to monitor different hashtags and create your own feeds. It is free and allows you to schedule updates and post to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Commun.itCommun.it helps identify potential leads and your most engaged followers on Twitter. It also recommends who to follow and who to unfollow.

So How Do I Know If It’s Working?

  • Google Analytics – Use Google Analytics to find out how much traffic you are generating from social media and learn what those visitors are doing on your site with the Goal/Funnel option.
  • Reports from SMM Software – HootSuite and Commun.it have built in reporting that allow you to see what links are getting clicked and what posts are being shared or liked.
  • Number of Likes, Retweets, Interactions – Simply track how many likes, retweets, and shares you’re getting each month. Facebook allows you to export data on your Facebook page posts.
  • Growth in followers – Are you adding new followers? Are you losing followers?
  • Try a social media promotion – Offer a “Facebook Special” or “Twitter only” promotion. Do you get a good response?
  • Ask your new customers how they found out about your business. If they say social media, you know it’s working.

It takes time and a little trial and error to develop an effective social media program, so be patient. At the end of the day it all comes down to being a good communicator. Say hi to people you meet, ask and respond to questions, and share informative content that your followers will find interesting. And don’t forget to have fun!

Need help developing your Social Media Strategy?

Contact Evolv to signup for our Social Media option:
Starting at $150/mo (includes  at least 50 posts/mo, monthly reports, & profile management*)
* Profile Management includes accepting friend/follow requests, relaying messages, general monitoring, and some audience building.

This post was written by David Ackley. David publishes craft beer news and provides social media marketing services at LocalBeerBlog.com.
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