Social Media Crash Course

by David Heitman

Everyone knows what social media is. The real question to answer is not “should we add it to our marketing plan” but rather, “are we utilizing it properly to take our company to the next level”?

Social media is the new “word-of-mouth.” It is essential to participate and make good use of this tool to reach and connect with your target audience in engaging and meaningful ways.

Engaging and meaningful…that is the key. Not just throwing content out there to the masses but truly striking up a conversation with the people you want to talk to and, even more importantly, those who want to hear from you.

Success lies in having clearly defined objectives, goals, strategies and tactics to create a powerful reputation engine that builds brand awareness and loyalty.

Social Media Outlets All Visionary Companies Have To Understand
Even If They Don’t Become A Part Of Your Plan

The cornerstone of Facebook is relationship building. A great tool for brand management and loyalty programs, according to Mashable Facebook now claims nearly a third of all U.S. display advertising impressions.

The Basics
Over 500 million users worldwide
1.5 million local businesses with active Facebook pages
More than 5.3 billion cumulative fans following those pages

Best Way To Utilize Facebook
Facebook is a true social network. In order to be successful you must build a community, and participate in other communities with similar interests and goals. Use it to post events both for promotions and with follow-up pictures, video and commentary. Demonstrate thought leadership through meaningful posts and Q&A’s. Buddy Media conducted a study on post effectiveness and found that short and sweet wins (posts between 80 characters or less had, on average a 27% higher engagement rate that those with more. This study also shows the importance of varying when you post. Thursdays and Fridays showed the greatest interaction with comments and likes and those posted outside of work hours also had greater success than posts between 8 and 5.

Twitter is a little less community and a little more newsreel. Building a base of followers through Twitter is more about intriguing people with special deals and quick information. People who love Twitter love to have access to things first and fast so it is a great tool for retail promotions and truly newsworthy updates

The Basics
156 million registered users
31% of those users follow a brand
780,000+ brand recommendations per month

Best Way to Utilize Twitter
Twitter is only as big as you make it. While there may be over 190 million visits to Twitter in a given day, if you only have a handful of followers it’s not worth the investment of time and effort. So, first and foremost, you must build a following.  From there, Twitter is best utilized for short updates that intrigue readers to click through and learn more. Post direct links to your site as well as valuable 3rd party links and use hash tags (#) to compile information on a certain topic, product launch or event.

Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn is a true social network. But where Facebook users are looking to keep in touch with personal networks as well as connect with relevant businesses, LinkedIn is very clearly a business-networking avenue. LinkedIn highlights a benefit of social media that is often overlooked but sometimes the most valuable— professional development. With all of the information out there it is the true visionary leaders of the business world who are taking advantage of daily updates and nuggets of information to better themselves and, in turn, better their company.

The Basics
Over 80 million members internationally
Adding a new member every second, according to CEO Jeff Weiner
Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members

Best Way to Utilize LinkedIn
LinkedIn is business networking at its finest and the best way to make the most of it is to get all of your employees active and participating. Continually add to your products and services portfolio, invest in using polls and keep employees (positively) active and communicating about your brand and you will see results. LinkedIn is also a great source to research potential leads and new hires.

YouTube is a video-sharing outlet that enables people to go “viral” in mere minutes. How does this impact businesses outside of the entertainment industry? It is a tool to get your message out to the masses as well as a way to incorporate videos into your promotions without eating up valuable server space.


The Basics
Over 145 million viewers
Each viewer watches over 100 videos on average
Second only to Google as a search engine

Best Way to Utilize YouTube
This all depends on who you are and who you are trying to reach. If your product/service appeals to the masses then post videos with easy to find tags to get noticed and shared throughout the social community. If you are working in a more niche space it is still very valuable to create a channel and direct customers there for easy viewing of your message. Imagine creating a video tutorial that you can share with just the click of a mouse regardless of operating system, tech savviness or other obstacles of your recipient.

As with all marketing strategies and tactics it is important to know what works and what needs tweaking. Monitoring social media’s direct impact on ROI is a bit more involved but it certainly can be done.

A few tips to get you started…

  1. Establish a baseline of where you are now based on your goals and objectives (i.e. sales revenue, number of transactions, new customers)
  2. Create social media activity timelines
  3. Measure transactional precursors (i.e. negative vs. positive mentions, retail traffic, web visitors, blot comments)
  4. Overlay all timelines
  5. Search for patterns
  6. Prove the relationship

At The Creative Alliance, social media is approached as part of the overall public relations package. It is not a new strategy, but rather a new set of tools to extend ongoing public relations reach and relationship building capabilities. , Our approach is to take a hard look at which, if any, social media outlets truly make sense for our clients and can drive a meaningful ROI. As with everything, strategic planning must come first in order to find success in tactics and implementation. Each business is different and each will benefit from a customized approach.

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