Don’t Go Social Without a Plan

Elaine Shannon

Elaine Shannon

Most businesses think they need a Twitter account, a blog, and a page on every social networking site out there. But why?

What can your business accomplish with a Tweetstream?

Is anyone actually going to visit a MySpace page? Will customers flock to your blog and then come spend money at your store?

Their needs

Just like everything else in business, it all comes down to what your visitors want. You need to know your target market and their online habits. Do most of your customers use Facebook on a daily basis, or do they have profiles they haven’t used in six months? If they’re on Twitter, are they looking for tips related to your business, or are they only interested in coupons? Take the time to get to know your customers and where they gather naturally. Meet them there, in their natural environment, and give them something they’re already looking for.

Your needs

But just like everything else in business, you need to set goals too. You may want to engage current customers and keep your brand in the top of their minds because they Liked you on Facebook. If you have an email marketing program, you might want blog visitors to sign up for your email list. You might even open a Twitter account as a customer service outlet: assign someone to monitor what people are saying on Twitter and respond when something goes wrong or when people have questions about your products.

Blogging for business

If you have a company blog, don’t focus your articles on your products; you have a website for that. Instead, think about your target market and what other things they probably search for. Do you sell signs? Create a blog that prepares people to buy them, with articles such as: Standard size signs, Full color versus 1-color or 2-color signs, How to design a sign, and other topics they’re likely to search for before they are ready to purchase. If you sell motorcycle accessories, provide a national directory of motorcycle dealerships and another directory for riding groups.

If you own a resort, and it’s at a very popular destination, realize that many other resorts are probably blogging about local attractions. Try to take a unique angle: for example, instead of “Things to do in Orlando,” you could widely focus on “Family activities in Orlando” and break your categories down into specific age groups: toddler activities, grade school attractions, etc.

Gently and subtly link to your main website where appropriate, and make sure to list it in the Links section as well. The goal here is to reach your target audience when they’re not shopping, so that they find useful information and remember you when they’re ready to buy. This should naturally increase visits to your main website, as well as providing some SEO help because your blog will provide backlinks.

Start with a plan

Before you jump into social media, study your target markets and find out how they typically use social media. Set realistic goals, and be patient as you build up a community. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding a “Like us on Facebook” icon to your homepage, but unless you already have a strong following of people who use Facebook heavily, it’s going to take more planning and work than that. Besides, you need to know what you’re going to do with those fans once you’ve got them.

Elaine Shannon
Founder, PlanningWebsites.com

  1. CricketCricket03-09-2011

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to guest author such a wonderful post for the V7N blog! Many new small business owners are at a loss on how to get started with social networking. Your advice is dead on! 🙂

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