How to establish a strong social media presence
1. Create profiles that sell you and your business
Rule number one for using social networks to promote your business is “Remember your brand”. Make sure your blog and any other platforms on which you have a presence, match your website and other marketing tools you may be using.
Be sure to sell yourself and your skills and services/products effectively. What makes you stand out from the crowd? If you don’t know what your USP (unique selling point) is, your prospects will have a hard time understanding why they should choose you over your competitors.
Be as thorough as possible when completing your profiles on the platforms you choose. Linkedin provides useful prompts for completing your profile, so be sure to follow those tips.
Include a photograph wherever you have the opportunity to do so. Your head & shoulders image should look professional, but as natural and approachable as possible, so consider hiring a photographer to get some good promotional headshots.
2. Interlink your profiles
Try to make sure your link anchor text includes your company name wherever you post links. This is a great strategy for online reputation management as you will be dominating the front page of Google with social media pages that you have control over, making it hard for negative comments to rise above those.
A useful website for identifying and syndicating social networks is Ping.fm which allows you to ‘post from anywhere to anywhere’.
3. Plan your content
Consider your business aims. What is the one goal you are focussing on now? What are the key messages you need to convey about the product or service you are marketing? Can you produce a list of topics to cover over the next 6-12 months?
To avoid ‘writer’s block’ it is a good idea to brainstorm some ideas for blog posts or other updates that are relevant to your target audience – and centred on the benefits of the product or service you provide. Remember to include the right keywords in your content to help sign-post the way for people who are searching for information about a specific problem that you can help to solve.
Also include your keywords in any updates on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or YouTube to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website.
Decide how often you will be publishing your blog or articles and schedule these in your diary ahead of time to ensure they get done.
4. Share your content
Once you are regularly posting content on your website or social network pages, you can create sign-posts that invite and entice browsers to read your updates. Try using Hootsuite to schedule Tweets, Facebook updates and post blog posts to your Facebook fan page, or Co-Tweet for managing more than one Twitter account.
Take a look at some of the social bookmarking sites and choose one that you feel comfortable using. The most popular sites are StumbledUpon, Del.icio.us, Digg and Reddit.
If you have a blog or other regularly updated content, you also need to have ‘sharing tools’ on your site, to make it easy for your readers to share your content with others in their network.
5. Strike up a conversation
Invite comments and participate in conversations. Social media and Web2.0 is all about interaction and one of the best ways of creating a buzz around what you do is to create a community centred round your product or service. This could be a forum on your website, a Facebook group, or a Linkedin group relevant to your industry.
Google Alerts can be used to get alerts to your inbox whenever comments are made in relation to keywords, such as your company name, product or industry. Schedule in time to read such comments – including those made on your blog - and take the time to respond. Think carefully before deleting a negative comment. By entering into a discussion instead, you will demonstrate a willingness to listen and may win the person who posted the comment over to your way of thinking.
You can also ‘recycle’ existing articles and blogs by re-writing them and posting to other relevant sites – with links back to your own site, of course. Just don’t copy verbatim as you could be penalised by search engines for having duplicate content.