Having a Plan, Knowing Audience Key to Successful Social Marketing

Article excerpt

Social media has grown exponentially over the past few years into a marketing and advertising powerhouse.

As people have integrated Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other networking channels into their daily lives, it's become essential for businesses to effectively use social networking in order to market their brand to current and potential customers.

Yet, many businesses are frustrated by the lack of results from using social media, or are still unsure why they need to be a part of it at all. We asked Corinn Hilbert, president of Crystal Lake-area based Be XSible LLC and instructor of Harper College's social media marketing certificate program, to explain social media marketing and how a focused plan can help a business achieve its goals.

Q. What is social marketing? Is it just having a Facebook page for my business?

A. Social marketing is making social media part of your marketing process. Marketing inherently requires a strategy or plan where a business has mapped out their objectives and goals, identified their target market and developed a message about their brand or products to distribute to customers and potential customers. Facebook can absolutely be part of that strategy. When a business doesn't have a strategy andopts to create a Facebook Page where they randomly post anecdotal messages, that is just social media, not social marketing.

Q. Why should I care what people say about my business on social media?

A. This question has two parts. Part one is every business should have a process for monitoring your presence online whether you are involved in social media or not.People talk online. Conversations are taking place and they could be about you. If they are, you want to know about it.Comments are left on directory sites and review sites every day and if those businesses aren't aware of that customer feedback, they are missing an important opportunity. If a review was bad, it is important to correct that issue right away so it does not follow you like a black cloud and affect someone else's buying decision. If the comment was great, you should be capitalizing on their testimonial.Part two is more about being conspicuously absent. If you're the only business not in the room, those present wonder why. If they expected to see you and engage with you on this event, meaning social media, you've just missed that chance. Moreover, if they found your competitor in your absence, guess who gets their attention. Keep in mind, if the success of your business requires customers under 40, they are online and in social networks.

Q. How can I run my business if I'm spending all of my time with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.?

A. You can't. The principle of social marketing is to be active on social platforms that fulfill the strategies of your marketing plan where a key factor is your target market. …