The social media marketing buzz rings echoes of 2009/2010 when many Australian small to medium businesses felt a need to jump on the website bandwagon. “Everyone else is doing it, so I need to do it too!”

Then, 6 to 12 months down the track, most come back with murmurs of “why isn’t this working?”

It’s the same issue over again. Business owners see a trend and go for it – which is a great thing. But so many don’t achieve any results.

Anyone can get results from social media marketing if they go about it the right way.

Objectives – Start with the end in mind

Before charging off into the world of social media, a business should know where it is that they want to be. Why are they doing this? What benefits are they expecting for their business?

The goal may seem straightforward, such as making more money, but the process will depend on specific results wanted. These objectives can include:

  • Improving customer service
  • Building a reputation as a brand and authority in your business
  • Increasing audience reach and building leads
  • Increasing sales

Strategy – Create a road map

Once you have your objectives, you can map out the steps needed to reach them. Such steps would come under the following categories:

  • Market Research: Find where your audience are, and what they are talking about.
  • Content Strategy: Decide where you will communicate (eg. blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Plus), what type of content your audience wants and how often. Then it’s good practice to create guidelines for your staff on how to participate in social media on behalf of your business.
  • Implementation and Management: Setup relevant tools and decide who will be involved.

Don’t forget to build the system into your business so that it ties in with direct marketing and offline advertising. And be sure to inform your staff if your social media tactics will affect their point-of-sale process.

Keep the momentum going

Once you have your plans and systems in place, it will be easier to stick to the process. Your social media systems will help you:

  • Be consistent
  • Join conversations and connect with your audience
  • Stay tuned with your market
  • Build a reputation of being reliable and dependable, simply by being there and listening

Be patient

Reaching your audience and building a presence through social media is not an overnight achievement. You need to create a long term friendship with your market. It could take 6 months, sometimes longer, before you see results.

Get the advantage

It is true that social media for business can be a waste of time, but only if you’re poking around at it for hours every day with no direction. That’s when people get disillusioned and give up on what is otherwise a valuable marketing tool.

Creating a plan that takes you from where you are to where you want to be makes all the difference. It saves you time and gets you results.

Have you been putting off social media because you didn’t have clarity on where to start? Do you know people who have given up on it, saying it was a waste of time? Share your thoughts below.

Carolyn Wilson
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