4 Keys to Social Media Success for Businesses

There are a lot of fantastic articles out on social media for businesses that will guide you through using specific social networks as tools to have an effective social media campaign. But let’s take a step back and look at the four basic keys to social media success.

Research First

If you are unsure of where to start when it comes to social media, your best bet is to start with a little competitor research.

Take a look at what businesses similar to yours are doing socially. To find their profiles, you can visit their website or company blog and look for their social media icons linking to their profiles. If that doesn’t work, then you can Google their company name and Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or LinkedIn.

As a last resort, you can go directly to these networks and use their search field to find them. This usually works better with Facebook and LinkedIn, as the others depend on if they used their company name as their username and entered it as the profile’s name as opposed to a person.

If none of these searches work, don’t give up and think that social media isn’t for your business simply because a few of your competitors are not using it. Expand your search for more competitors – don’t stick to just local businesses or businesses your size. Look at national, even international businesses as well as companies larger than yours. Chances are, you’ll learn more from those anyway.

Once you find some good social profiles in your industry, start looking at what they do and how their followers respond.

  • Do they post links, photos, or videos on their Facebook wall? What types of content gets the most likes and comments?
  • Search the @username of your competitor on Twitter. What questions do people ask them, and how do they respond? What tweets get the most retweets by their followers?
  • What types of videos does your competitor create and upload on YouTube? Which videos have the most views?
  • Does your competitor have a detailed company profile on LinkedIn? What products and/or services do the list? How many employees are they connected with and what are their titles?

On all of these networks, you will also want to look at how often your competitor updates to see how fans of the industry respond. Do they want hourly tweets, daily Facebook updates, weekly videos, and so on.

Make a Written Plan

Your next step is a written plan. This can be as simple as what profiles your company will create and who is in charge of them to how many updates you will make daily on particular topics within each network.

Included in this plan should be a social media policy for your employees who have personal profiles that they would be willing to associate with the company. What is expected of them in terms of how they will promote the company to their followers? What can they discuss and what is off limits?

A social media policy is especially important if you are creating Twitter lists of your employees, publicly listing personal profiles of employees as admins of your Facebook page, allowing employees to create content for the company’s YouTube channel, or expecting employees to get involved in question and answers or groups on LinkedIn.

Share Great, Non-Sales Content

One thing that will boost your follower count and engagement on any social network is great content that would interest clients and potential clients alike. It is important that this content is not always yours and not always related to making a sale.

Let’s say your company develops small business CRM software. You will want to share content that people who use your software would be interested in, such as articles on social media for customer relationships. You wouldn’t want to constantly bombard your audience with links to product sales pages directly on your Facebook wall or non-stop sales videos. An occasional tweet about new products and special offers are ok when mixed in with other great content.

Your goal will be to keep providing educational and, for some industries, entertaining content over content that will make your followers feel like they are constantly being pitched.

This is also a great time to evaluate the content on your own site to see if you have something of your own to share such as informative blog posts, educational articles, videos, and infographics. If not, now would be a good time to start developing that type of content as it has the tendency to be passed on by your followers to theirs through retweets, sharing, and bookmarking.

Listen and Engage

These are probably the most important two things you can do in your on-going social campaign. Be sure to monitor any conversation about your business, brand name products, and big names of corporate executives that are in the public eye. Use sites like Social Mention to receive alerts any time someone is discussing your business on social media and within blogs.

You can also create searches on Twitter for keywords related to your business and monitor these searches within tools like HootSuite. Then, whenever you see a mention for your brand, you can reply to them quickly.

Also, whenever you get questions or comments on your Facebook wall or YouTube videos, it is wise to respond to them as well. You don’t have to be afraid of criticism. Companies that handle problems and complaints quickly and efficiently through social media will be seen as more reputable. Every business has its issues – what is important is how you deal with them on a public platform.

Your Thoughts on Social Media Success

What other key elements do you feel are imperative to social media success? Please share your thoughts and what has worked for your business in the comments below.

About Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a writer for Future Simple's Growth University. She shares an enthusiasm for marketing, social networking, and blogging tips to help small businesses grow. She's also a blog marketing expert and social media enthusiast
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