10 Social Media Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss

Time spent on Facebook these days may not be time wasted after all. Social media sites that were once the realm of teenagers and college students are quickly becoming highly effective marketing tools for burgeoning businesses. By harnessing the power of social media tools, business owners have the potential to reach millions of clients all over the world. These 10 tips will help you make the best use of social media to grow the reputation, client base and visibility of your business.

  1. Facebook. Facebook represents perhaps the very best value today in social media marketing. With hundreds of millions of users online, the importance of establishing a Facebook presence for your business cannot be overstated. Plan to spend some time doing your due diligence: Searching for competitors, evaluating their pages and making an effort to understand how they’re making use of this valuable resource. You’re not interested in copying their approach, but, conversely, there’s no need to reinvent the proverbial wheel. See what’s working and adapt the most appealing features to your own business.
  2. Twitter. Twitter is no longer just for kids. It’s become an incredible tool for connecting businesses with their customers and potential customers. In 140-word messages, or ‘tweets,’ you can candidly communicate your sincerity, your personality and your genuine desire to be a contributing member of the online community. Make no mistake, in entering the social media realm, you are most assuredly joining a community, one whose members have a long memory. That cuts both ways; readers will remember both the good and the bad. Every business occasionally drops the ball – we’re all human. What will enter the online subconscious is not the fact that an error was made, but how it was handled after the fact. Treat people as you’d like to be treated and word will absolutely spread.
  3. LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the leading example of a social media site specifically intended for business users. It boasts tens of millions of users and represents another powerful arrow in your online marketing quiver. Start off by reserving your business name and spending a little time browsing your competitors’ pages. If your business has been around for awhile, search for some of your customers and connect with them. Once you’ve done so, go ahead and request a ‘recommendation’ from them for any jobs successfully completed. LinkedIn recommendations will improve your company’s search engine rankings and that will lead to more page views and more customers. That’s exactly why you’re engaging in social media in the first place!
  4. Blog Participation. Always remember that social media is about engaging with a community. It’s all about the dialog. Sometimes you can drive the discussion and sometimes you’re just a contributor to someone else’s conversation. Being seen as a valuable contributor is essential to establishing credibility for your business in the online world. Building a reputation online, as in real life, takes time and trust. Not everyone will come to you; sometimes you need to go to them. Spend the time to identify and regularly read several blogs in your field. Make it a point to take part in the discussions and, whenever possible, add value to the conversation by relating your own relevant experiences. Blog owners can be excellent resources. After you’ve been contributing for a while, plan to contact the owners and inquire if they’d permit you to guest post on their blog. This is great way to begin reaching out to a larger audience for your own business.
  5. Online Commentary about your Company. Just as in your personal life, you know that people are going to talk about you when you’re not around. We all want to be thought well of in our absence, right? It’s exactly the same with your business. People will likely about your company at any hour of the day. How can you track and, with care, join those dialogs? Google Alerts is definitely your best ally. These are free updates that Google will generate on any topic you specify. For example: Your company’s name, the names of your biggest competitors, your product names, their product names, etc.
  6. Establish a Consistent Brand. Potential customers have myriad resources online and a vast multitude of ways to locate your business. You can help this process along tremendously by striving to maintain a consistent brand. That means using the same name and user profile for every site on which you establish a presence. Those names will show up in search results and the essential point to remember is as follows: Do nothing to dilute your brand. Consider carefully before opting for a generic email address (such as a gmail.com address) instead of a custom domain (as in yourbusinessname.com). This seemingly small point represents a huge leap up the ladder of perceived professionalism.
  7. Best Use of the Social Media Toolbox. Your very best approach in the quest to utilize social media to your company’s advantage is to simply leverage the many sites against each other. In other words, cross-pollination. Begin by integrating your Twitter account into your Facebook page, thereby making better use of your posting time, as your tweets will show up in your Facebook stream. If you have your own blog, spend a few moments to associate your LinkedIn profile with it; you can automatically show your blog posts on your LinkedIn page. Anything you put online in one place will propagate itself across the various social media strata. Easy, right? But very important…
  8. Be Real. Customers prefer to establish connections with real people, rather than with faceless business entities. Always strive to be who you really are online. If you have a consistent voice and strive to represent yourself as a warm and genuine person, you’ll be doing everything possible to nurture your growing online presence, and you’ll get much further in every other aspect of growing your business with social media.
  9. Be Honest. If you or your business is criticized in public (and it’s bound to happen), remember that the most effective response is to keep the dialog both conversational and public. In other words, resist the temptation to take the followup discussion private or offline. Customers and potential customers have already read the critique and you definitely want them to see how well you handled the situation.
  10. Engender Customer Loyalty. Social media gives you, the business owner, the opportunity to run more frequent promotions than was formerly possible under the advertising paradigm of the pre-online era. Campaigns can be more interesting and better tailored to events. New products and services can be previewed prior to their official launch. Consumer interest can be gauged and feedback solicited. Social media participation will enable you to engage your customers’ loyalties in ways that were only recently made possible.

Author: Randall Davidson is a co-founder and the lead project manager for AudioTranscription.Org, an audio transcription company that relies on the power of social media to drive potential clients to its website. By using the tips outlined above,  AudioTranscription.Org now has garnered over 2,500 Twitter followers, mentions in mainstream press including USAToday.com, Time.com and Reuters.com, and a constantly growing client base. AudioTranscription.Org provides a variety of transcription services, including both business and general transcription.