Social media is a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool for your business. It will not only put you directly in touch with existing and new clients, it will make you more personable, trustworthy and approachable. It will also improve links to your website, boost your SEO , help you to raise your own profile and establish new networks while attracting more business overall.
Take for instance, Boomerang PR Agency in Cheshire. The company has fully embraced social media marketing by launching its own Creative Boom magazine. It was founded in July 2009 after its founder, Katy Cowan, spoke to other freelancers and businesses on Twitter. The national site – which also has 20 regional e-zines across the UK – gets 95 per cent of its news from Twitter and Facebook alone. Since its launch, the site has grown significantly and now gets over 1,700 hits per day.
Over 3,200 people follow them on Twitter and they’ve got more than 650 fans on Facebook. What’s more, the site has grown so much it’s now offering advertising, three of which have transformed into clients, including THECUBE, a conceptual workspace and network for creative businesses in London and North America’s largest illustration agency, Anna Goodson Management. In just four months, Boomerang PR Agency has expanded its services worldwide, become a credible market leader in its own field, attracted new business from as far away as Canada and Australia and boosted its website’s position in the organic search engine listings. Social media is undoubtedly a powerful marketing tool.
To get you started, here are some top tips from the Cheshire firm:
Twitter is a hugely effective free marketing tool for your business. It’s a micro-blogging site and somewhere that allows you to talk directly to your customers quickly and easily. You basically follow people and people follow you. You can tweet about yourself while keeping updated on the rest of the world. Sign up and create an account, reserving your business name and start ‘tweeting’. You can tweet about your company news, point people back to your website and any useful blogs you might have, or even respond to tweets about your sector. If you’ve got an IPhone, you can use an application called TwitPic to share your photos on Twitter. Check out the one featured in this post which I took earlier today in our office. It’s a great way to add more personality to your business. A useful ‘search’ function on Twitter will help you to find relevant people to follow or even target. For instance, at Boomerang PR agency, follows PR Week but also lots of design and marketing agencies around Staffordshire and Cheshire. The company has found lots of new business by tweeting about its services and sharing its expertise online. They’ve also searched for things like ‘PR services’ and ‘web developer required’ to target others and introduce themselves. To make the most out of your Twitter account you can use more advanced tools like Tweetie, Hootsuite or TweetDeck. These will make using Twitter a whole lot easier and come with lots of useful features. Take for instance, Hootsuite – you can schedule Tweets to be posted onto your profile while you’re away from your desk. Twitter has also recently introduced ‘Lists’ whereby you can organise all the people you are following, placing them into categories.
If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest. As a business, you can start a Group or Fanpage where people can follow you, similar to Twitter, and become fans of your business. Like Twitter, this is a fantastic free marketing tool to help build your online presence and get more people talking about you and your products or services. Again, you can point people back to your website, your blog posts or even seek customer feedback. For example, on Creative Boom’s Fanpage, the magazine often talks directly to its fans, asking for their opinion on how they can continue to improve the website. As a result, the magazine has recently launched Creative Boom Hubs – regional versions of the main website to help create creative communities across the UK. Facebook also has lots of Groups or Fan Pages which you can target. Boomerang PR helped to drive thousands of people to Creative Boom, simply by posting about its magazine on different Facebook Groups and Pages. What’s more, Facebook has wonderful advertising opportunities where you can pick out keywords and target certain demographics to help you reach the right customers.
Linked In is a business version of Facebook that is hugely popular and has over 50 million users worldwide. It has some very useful functions like ‘Recommendations’ where you can encourage clients or colleagues to add a testimonial to your Linked In profile. It’s also another social media network that has Groups. For instance,Boomerang PR Agency follows a Staffordshire Business Group and regularly talks online through the forums. It’s also a great way of keeping informed of any relevant business networking events going on in your local area.
Writing a blog gives you credibility, helps you to showcase your expertise and target potential new customers online. What’s more, by integrating a blog into your current website, you’ll be providing fresh and relevant copy. And Google loves regularly updated copy, which will really help boost your SEO. If you’re stuck for things to write then consider the following: you could comment on something in the news; provide tips and advice; share your expertise; review a product or service relevant to your industry or even just talk about your recent client wins. Don’t forget to give your blog posts titles with SEO in mind. Think of what people would search for in the search engines. For instance, this feature would be ‘Top tips for social media marketing’. It’s another great way of being found through the search engine results pages.
Forums, chat rooms and chatting online
Contribute to online conversation and check out other people’s blogs that are within your sector, adding intelligent comments/debate to their posts. It will give you further credibility and put you in touch with hundreds of potential new customers. More importantly, it will build links back to your own website. Why is link building so important? It’s relevant for SEO and helps to drive more traffic to your website. The more traffic you have, the more potential customers you’re reaching. The more strong links you have, the more your Google page rank will improve. Remember, social media goes hand-in-hand with SEO.
Have you considered using multimedia to boost your online presence? Websites like Flickr, Vimeo and YouTube are a great way to add more personality to your business. If you’re a designer and you want to showcase your work, you can easily produce a video gallery of your work and post it onto YouTube. If you’re a photographer you can upload your work onto Flickr, a photo sharing site that also has groups, forums and online communities. Or how about adding videos to your own website? You could demonstrate a new product? Or just talk to your customers direct by introducing ‘vlogs’ or video blogs. Creative Boom has a feature called Boom TV where the editor, Katy Cowan, and her contributors talk about different themes, sharing top tips and advice on a variety of subjects.
Join everything up!
Finally, once you’ve got your own Twitter and Facebook accounts up and running and you’ve started a blog or introduced YouTube videos, why not connect them all up? You can use things like Twitterfeed to tap into your blog’s RSS feed and automatically post things onto Twitter and Facebook. Just think of Twitter and Facebook as powerful tools that will drive traffic to your website. Don’t forget to add some social media icons to your website so that people can easily follow you on Twitter or become your fan on Facebook.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+