Just a Few Thoughts on Social Media and Why You Might Need Some Strategy.

Social media can be an amazing way to spread out your brand presence, but as anyone might know from my post on Facebook earlier  today you need to handle with care. Just because social media is hot doesn’t mean it’s right  for your company or your brand. Social media can be a great tool for a number of reasons and it can also be a major fail if you don’t have the right strategy and planning to back it up.  Some of the reasons advertisers and marketers have jumped on the band wagon and are promoting the hell out of social media sites are these.

First off  It’s affordable, you don’t need the same large marketing budgets the big brands have. A social media marketing specialist (yes they actually exist)  can help you get started with a real social media presence. There are hundreds of social media sites out there, you need to choose the ones that match your target audience and present your brand in the best light. Social media is all about developing personal relationships with your target audience,  so even including the offset of professional help, the real cost could easily be the soft cost of your development time. You know how much your time costs so do it right the first time, or  it will end up costing you allot more than you think.

Next up Social Media is  viral. With the right content your blog/Social Media  posts have the potential to spread your overall brand awareness very quickly and very far. Now remember you need to be careful though about what you put out. It can benefit you but without the right strategy and management it can also hurt your brand.

Bottom line, if done right Social Media will improve your overall brand reputation. You need to put  out quality and focused content consistently. Quality content helps establish your brand as an authority in your specific field. Do yourself a favor and make sure your content supports your global brand position in the marketplace. You need to be consistent, and provide value.  More over, you need to  avoid writing self-serving content, which can damage the brand reputation you are trying to build in the end. This is a tough one. You need to write content that is convincing without sounding like a PhD, doctorate, or like a comic book. Think journalism, here. Really. You need to communicate your message with the same literary eloquence as a seasoned journalist. Think about it, this is why great periodicals continue to thrive even during an economic downturn.

Social Media increases traffic to you website. Increased traffic that turns into  more leads and new business. If your social media presence is well-integrated and consistent, it  will generate links and improve your overall rankings with search engines. The higher you rank, the more prospects will find you before they find the competition. If you want to generate conversions make sure your website is optimized and deliver what your clients  expect. Be careful though, you want to increase traffic but never do anything that  can damage your brand reputation. Your brand is always first, so you need to make sure that your social media strategy not only grows your market base, but also supports your integrated brand strategy.

Social Media helps your brand establish a strong connection with your target audience. The interactive aspect of Social Media is in itself personal by nature. This means that the relationships you create, if done correctly,  can be deeper and last longer than with any other media. This means that your social media relationships have to come across as authentic and transparent. People that are actively engaged in social media activities will either see through BS marketing, or turn against you when they find out they have been duped by a clever marketing hack. More than anything else, the content you post has to be genuine, and not some traditional ad-slick wrapped up in this months latest flavor. Seriously, you need to think about the genuine article here. Real will always translate better  than contrived, polished, or slick. And yes your target audience can and will be able to tell the difference. Seriously.

Social media connects you with real experts and leaders in your field. The great thing about Social Media is that you’ll have an opportunity to interact, build  and network with the established and emerging leaders in your field. If you comment on their posts and tweets, if you participate in their social media conversations, and support them when they ask for support there is a high probability that  they’ll support you when you need them. More over they will spread the word about your social media network.

Social media builds your credibility. What people say about you is massive to your brand credibility and success. If you use social media to create a positive perception about your brand, then your target audience will believe what others say about your brand. They will believe this more than anything you can ever say about it yourself. You need to track  what others say about you in blogs consistently, and make sure you  respond quickly to comment that might be potentially damaging to your overall brand perception.

At the end of the day, social media can be a powerful tool if done right. It’s really all about how you build your strategy and play the game. As more and more media channels begin to converge this will become a deciding factor for advertising in the next decade.