social_media_icons_20Social Media Marketing is a form of internet marketing that implements various social media networks in order to achieve marketing communication and branding goals. Social media marketing primarily covers activities involving social sharing of content, videos, and images for marketing purposes.

Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business’ goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a plan in mind is like wandering through a forest without a map, you’ll only end up lost. Create a social media marketing plan and brainstorm about your goals: what are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing? Who is your target audience? Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media? What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?

Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. Invites comments from customers.
  2. Demonstrate what your company does.Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words.
  3. be careful what you say about others. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.
  4. Interact with visitors. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way.
  5. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can run promotions more frequently.
  6. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation.
  7. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly.  This helps prevent negative posts about your business.
  8. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on social media can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone.
  9. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service.
  10. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses.use Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit your location and send promotional offers to frequent customers.
  11. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community.
  12. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company.
  13. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Encouraging followers to visit your shop. They will soon begin tweeting orders through the site as well.
  14. Don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away.
  15. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

Various social media marketing sites will require different techniques, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform. This is a brief overview on how to use social media for marketing according to each platform’s unique environment.

Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy that begins with creating a Facebook Business Fan Page.  You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience. Social media marketing for business pages revolves around furthering your conversation with audiences by posting industry-related articles, images, videos, etc

Google+ is the new Facebook competitor, and it promotes the same fun, casual atmosphere. On Google+ you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group. You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you’re a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats

Twitter  lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return. Mix up your official-related tweets about specials, discounts, and news updates with some fun and quirky tweets interspersed. Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget answer people’s questions when possible.  Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible.

LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations makes your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established and earns trust.

YouTube is the number one place for creating video content, with can be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos.

Information from Wordstream and Inc. used in this article.