Delving into the world of social network marketing can be intimidating for many small business owners. While it can be a valuable tool for some companies, it can be detrimental to others. How do you know if you should jump on the bandwagon?

First, do you want to engage on a social level with your customers? Social network marketing is designed to be social, so those on social networks want to engage on a social level. If you don’t, then it’s is not right for you. There can be a backlash effect for companies that “infiltrate” the social networks and try to use it as another outlet for advertising. Customers will likely become irritated and feel like you’re just trying to “advertise” to them rather than engage with them. In order to embrace this social medium, you should be willing to enable all interactive features. Allow people to leave reviews, post comments, links and photos. Otherwise, you’re limiting yourself to one-way communication — and that’s not the way to build relationships. Don’t be afraid of interacting with your customers, it’s the only way to get them to love you!

Next, are you willing/able to keep your page current? This means making regular posts that add value for your customers. You’ll have to determine how often you’ll need to post — based on your goals, mission/vision statements, brand identity, and target market. But people don’t like to see a “dead” Facebook page or a Tumblr page with nothing new.

Finally, are you willing/able to respond to all comments/questions by your customers? It’s important to respond to all communications. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend time thanking everyone for “liking” your Facebook page, but it does mean that you should acknowledge positive comments/posts (even if with a simple “like”) and answer/respond to all questions and complaints in a timely manner. So yes, you’ll need to check your page often — even if you’re only planning on posting twice a week.

If you’ve determined that social network marketing is right for your business, you’ll need to decide which networks are appropriate. This decision should be first be directed by your mission/vision statements, brand identity, and target market — which is used to develop a clear “voice” to represent your brand on the social networks.

Consistency is important, so whoever is representing your business should be clear on your brand voice. Is it casual? Formal? Fun? Serious? Family-friendly? More risqué? Your social networking goals will also help you determine the appropriate networks — what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to use it to hype events? Build a community around your brand? Generate interest in industry news?

Goals will vary greatly from business to business, but it’s always the goals that should dictate the appropriate media, not the other way around.

Worried that you have to get it perfect? Don’t let that keep you from trying. Once you have established a connection with your customer through social network marketing, they will forgive you if you get it wrong on occasion — just like a friend.

Source: Blog.Al.Com

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