It’s clear that social media has grown dramatically over the last few years and that with more than 800 million active users, the number of Facebook users is easily more than twice the size of the entire population of the United States! Its growth has been astronomical and today, millions of people are posting more personal and business information online than ever before. It’s happening at lightning speed with thousands of posts, tweets and uploads occurring every hour.
Recent research conducted by the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) commissioned by Sensis Pty Ltd (May 2011, p. 10) indicates, that “62% of Australian Internet users use a variety of social media sites, with many visiting every day and most at least a few times a week.” It’s no surprise that with the millions of prospective customers from all over the world using these sites, every day, that so many businesses have decided to include social media marketing into their marketing mix. However it also important to get an understanding of how these sites are being used and what’s involved in maintaining or resourcing your business presence on these sites. Your online footprint can stick around for a long time so don’t underestimate how this can affect the perception of your brand in the market place. Spend some time upfront thinking about whether social media is right for your business.
1. Seek first to understand – It is very important that you understand the fundamentals of how is social media actually works and how it’s being used. What are people and businesses doing with social media? What gets them results? Some of you may be thinking, how do I do this? Perhaps you could consider trying it out for yourself by setting up a personal account, then testing some of the features, or get a trusted friend to show you their account and guide you through. Alternatively there are so many resources and ‘how to’ items online about social media, that you could run a search on Google or on YouTube on a particular topic of interest and watch the video tutorials to get informed.
2. Understand your purpose – What is your purpose is for using social media? What do you hope to achieve for your business by using it? It’s really important that you identify your purpose for getting involved in social media (or any other marketing activity for that matter). You need to work out why you are taking part. What do you expect to achieve? Do you simply want to build brand awareness, engage with your customers or identify new sales opportunities? Remember to be realistic about what you believe you will be able to achieve.
3. If you decide to engage in social media, which sites are best for you? – With the plethora of social media sites available, which ones are best for your business? Think about where your target audience would socialize online, and think about the amount of time and resources you would realistically be able to commit to maintaining and administering your site presence. Which ones are right for you? You might find that some are a better fit than others.
4. Quality Content – If you decide that social media is right for your business, carefully consider the amount and quality of information you want to share in the online sphere. Remember it will probably stay there for a long time, so you need to make sure it accurate and reliable information that is valuable to your target audience. It has to be relevant, otherwise people will not read it.