Using social media as a means to an end, not THE END

24 May

Today, companies are engaging across a multitude of evolving, never-ending social mediums. But with limited time and resources, it’s important for entrepreneurs to treat social media as an enhancement to their sustainable growth strategy instead of making it “THE” strategy. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the social gadgets and gizmos available; start small and use social media to amplify your existing business plan, reach your goals and tell your story.

In a digitized world, Marshall McLuhan’s famous philosophy “the message is the medium” is no longer true. From Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to Pinterest, Instagram and Foursquare – the success of a message is now dependent upon the quality of your content, the audience that you reach and more importantly, your call to action.

This week, .BIZ attended the Social Media Forum at the U.S. Small Business Association’s 2012 Conference. Panelist Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz and GrowSmartBusiness and former editorial director at Entrepreneur Magazine, gave simple but sound advice for choosing the appropriate social mediums: Go where your audience is. And if your audience is everywhere? Start with one or two networks where the majority of your audience is engaging. “Create personas of the audience you are engaging with on each social platform and tailor your content accordingly,” Rieva advised.

So you might be wondering: How can I make social a means to an end for my start-up? First, focus on building credibility among your target market and driving them to your website to continue through your sales funnel and convert. Remember that while social is a great tool to drive traffic to your company’s website; it should never replace your website. It’s important to note that engagement etiquette differs depending on the network. Mashable’s article “How to: Pick the right social media engagement style,” provides a few helpful and insightful tips.

After you’ve begun engaging on your social networks of choice and linking to your website, it’s time to start measuring and tweaking your messages accordingly. Hootsuite is a great FREE tool to use that will help you track how many people are clicking on your sites, and from what social media networks. You can also leverage Google Analytics to dive deeper into where visitors are landing on your site, where they are going, how long they are staying, if they are converting, the amount of $ they spending, and much more! We encourage you to experiment with your messages and be creative. Then, monitor your results, build on what’s working and kill what isn’t.

We hope this post inspires you to start maximizing your online communities as a means to an end for long-term business success. Be authentic, create relationships, build trust and use social media to encourage your target market to take the next step in the conversion process − visiting your .BIZ website!

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