No doubt about it, social media is a powerful technology. Two billion people are already online. E-commerce sales are $8 trillion a year. Its greatest virtue is that it breaks down the barriers between companies and their customers. Companies can find out what their customers think of them through their tweets and respond quickly. All this information is wonderful if companies can interpret it. Workers are already over loaded and often can’t make sense of the data they are being fed. And that data deluge is expected to grow more than 40 times by 2020.

So what does this mean for the already overstressed small business man? A problem could arise if most of the tweets and other comments come from mostly angry customers. It would be easy to pacify these while neglecting the average customer, the non-customer (the biggest source of possible growth) and the elderly who seldom tweet.

The trick will be in using this technology to the best advantage by extracting useful information from it. It can provide great opportunities, but can also bring problems. Businesses will need better filters, editors and social media managers to help them with the flood of data. We can help you with some of this. Give us a call.

Businesses need to develop a plan for their social media.

Plan A Dialogue

You need to create a long term strategy for you social media dialogue. What are you going to say and when are you going to say it? This dialogue can focus on special events or seasons. Different businesses have different seasons. A jewelry store needs to focus most of its effort on seasonal events, like Valentines Day and Christmas, and also focus on special events, like promotional event put on by a diamond vendor. Then something like a monthly newsletter can keep visitors coming back on a regular basis.

Make Regular Responses

Once your social media tools are in place, make sure they are being monitored. This can happen with someone checking for responses to your Web 2.0 resources like Facebook and Twitter. The ideal way to keep these monitored is to do it through a smart phone that will be with someone 24/7. Otherwise, make sure the social media tools are checked on a regular basis.

Encourage Two Way Communications

The key reason for using interactive social media is to get information from your clientele. Encourage them to participate. One neat example is what Clorox did at Christmas time. The offered a $1 donation to the Red Cross for each click through to the Red Cross website.

Here’s their message:

Clorox Last chance to give the gift that saves the day. For every click-thru to the American Red Cross Holiday Gift Catalog, Clorox will donate $1 to the Red Cross, up to $10,000. Find a link to the Red Cross Holiday Gift Catalog on the “Clorox Home” tab of our Facebook page. Then, simply click on the “Start Helping” button.

There are many other ways to get participation on your social media. What methods do you use?

Services like facebook are going to take the place of email. To get a message to someone on facebook you must have their permission to send them one. Read the rest of this entry »

Just like a business plan or a marketing plan, businesses that use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other social media resources need to develop a social media plan. That plan should include what resources you will use, what value you will create with them, and how you will grow your following.

Determine What Resources Are Of Value

Different resources attract different participants. While Facebook will be interacting with an individual often sitting at a PC, individuals using Foresquare are normally on the road with a mobile device. Some users will use only one means, but many will use both. And while a business needs to tweak for each resource, it needs to keep it’s general message consistent.

Create Service And Value

Too many businesses want to just post something on their social media resources and then leave it alone. That’s the wrong approach. Businesses need act. They need to do something that will benefit the persons they are corresponding with. Anything from a tutorial on how to use a product to a request for the completion of a survey can get social media participants to act. And when they act, you know you have created value for them.

Interaction With Customers Requires Authority

In many cases when you hire someone to interact with a customer you need to grant them authority. This is especially the case in social media. Social media often entails one to one contact between your representative and your customer. That representative needs to have some authority to make decisions that will be representative of the company. This increases the value of your social media site to your customer.

Grow Your Following

In most cases businesses are out to increase their customers. Social media can enhance this effort by growing a business’s connections. To do this a firm must make use of it’s current connections to gain new ones. One way to do this is to create content that goes viral. Do or create something that your current following will tell others about.

Change Your Plan

Just like your business plan, your social media plan should always be changing. Competition, market conditions, and many other factors that are regularly changing influence the company mission. And when that mission changes, so do the plans.

Tips On Twitter

Here is a great tutorial on using Twitter for your business. Even if you already use the service this is a great video that may show you how do use the service more efficiently.

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Social Media is a term that you are beginning to hear more and more often. Can you explain what it is all about?

The Next Step In Internet Marketing

Social media is the next step for businesses to enhance their customer service and marketing. It allows businesses to have online contact that is interactive. This comes in many forms. These include blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Take a look at how social media is changing marketing:

Tell us how you use social media. If you want help creating a social media plan for your business, contact Huck Huckabee at 704-438-2910