Social media companies have rocketed consumers and merchants into the marketing equivalent of the space age. Just a few years ago, the “conducting” of business started with basic information. Ruth told Myra about a sale at Macy’s. Jeff heard an ad for a lawn care service on the radio. Vanessa saw a TV advertisement for Pizza Hut. What happened next, in most cases, was Myra, Jeff, and Vanessa acted on that information and made purchases that benefited themselves and the merchants whose content was delivered by one or more of these traditional methods.
Today, it’s still about information, but Myra, Jeff and Vanessa spend more time now on the internet for entertainment as well as information. Therefore, the more traditional outlets (word-of-mouth, newspaper, radio, and TV) have been augmented by the internet and various social media companies. Large and small businesses both need to exploit these new online methods as much as possible for brand building.
With this surge in online media, probably the biggest impact on corporate and small business marketing will be made by blogs, and micro-blogs, the most notable of which is Twitter. What exactly is a blog? A blog is any information you wish to publish, or post, on your website. There are no real guidelines for blogs, except they all start as web sites and then they somehow become interactive, and hopefully very popular, if commercial success is one of the goals of the blogger.
Blogs posts are also information-filled, written bursts about your company, products, brand, people, successes, philanthropic activities, educational whitepapers, research studies, etc. In other words, any good news or valuable “offer” from your company elevates your brand if posted and tweeted enough. With every post and tweet, your company becomes more of any industry “expert,” and not just a commercial entity. Twitter, the standard in micro-blogging, is a free and public forum for information. Apart from your website (but still linked to the site) it becomes a powerful tool for your online marketers to draw traffic to your site.
Social media is clearly an effective and inexpensive method for brand management and promotion. Twitter is a relationship-building and maintenance tool. Think of it as sort of an online trade show or industry convention. But, it does not just promote your brand. It can also help track the results of your brand promotion efforts, as responding tweets give insight into what people say about your brand. Consider the following:
Companies that blog average 70% more leads over traditional non-bloggers.
Companies that use Twitter gain twice as many leads per month than “Tweetless” companies.
Inbound marketing leads from Twitter cost 61% less than leads generated by other methods.
It all starts with a small t symbol (the Twitter logo and link) on a website. What happens next is up to you and your best creative efforts in brand information content. All good marketers start with the basic information about their market, as follows:
Who is our customer?
What do they do, or need?
How can our products/services positively impact them or their business?
The answers to these questions are used to build your product’s message, or brand, and publish it on a website with blogs that specify all those “good news” items about the company mentioned above. A well-defined company brand can be jump-started into mass brand recognition by simply promoting that brand, first with websites, then blogs, then tweets. The key is to link them all together by imbedding relevant tweets with links to various company blogs, and vice versa.
Restated, the online promotion of a brand via a website, a blog, and a twitter account are interrelated and feed off each other’s volume. Search engines will reward web sites with higher page rankings (and therefore more traffic) the more blog posts and tweets that feed the web site. But, how do you start with no traffic and get to the 70% more leads mentioned above?
Journalists, industry experts, and other well-known bloggers promote themselves on Twitter, just as you do. “Following” them is a good way to introduce your company to these media outlets and other influencers in your industry. They may be curious enough about your “brand” profile to, in turn, follow you.
Also, you should search for influential blogs in your industry; subscribe to them; and follow their authors on Twitter as well. Like you, these people are reaching out in every way possible to their audiences and they often seek information for their stories from people they follow on Twitter. They may also seek story-building information from their Twitter “followers” whose profiles are relevant to their blog or information service. They too will search for blogs with keywords about their subject, which just could happen to be your related product or service blog. More exposure is the ultimate goal.
Social media marketing actually began a long time ago with video text, or information scrolling on cable TV, in the 80s and 90s. It evolved into hypertext, the same type of information on electronic bulletin boards from the early internet services providers. Now, tablets and smart phones can place a company’s brand in everyone’s pocket portfolio of services. Your company’s edge, then, depends on how well social media, particularly Twitter, can rapidly spread your good news, or brand-building information to the right people who can help spread that news to the market.