Editor's note: Seyed Ziae Mousavi Mojab is a MBA Student in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and currently in ISM 7505: Inbound Information Technology
These days, everyone talks about Social Media. Social Media is now the primary source of information and a key resource for communication. Facebook has more than 1 billion registered users and each day around 500 million tweets are sent out. People use Social Media not only to build inter-personal relationships, but also to learn about consumer products and to read consumer feedbacks. Many business owners, also use Social Media to attract and engage new customers. Effective use of Social Media can in fact, bring great opportunities for many businesses. Effective use of Social Media can bring great opportunities for your business.
While Social Media marketing looks easy, cheap, and effective, a wrong Social Media strategy can end up damaging your business and brand reputation in the market. The question; however, is how you should approach Social Media marketing.
The first and major challenge, in Social Media projects, is to provide the company a good understanding of Social Media sapce, and clearly demonstrate the Social Media opportunities and the business real needs. A company’s reputation can no longer be controlled from inside the company. With the emergence of Social Media, maintaining a favorable online reputation has become an increasingly challenging task. On Social Media, people can say anything about your business, both good and bad, and you need to know how to handle these negative and positive feedbacks. Therefore, before starting a Social Media project, all the gray areas must be discussed and resolved with the management to secure enough internal resources, and develop a comprehensive Social Media strategy. The benefits and consequences must be explained, and opportunities and challenges must be evaluated.
Next, develop a project plan. Set you goals, audience, and platforms. Select the appropriate measures, and outline the content, benefits and requirements. And finally specify your marketing team’s responsibilities.
The easiest way to search and monitor Social Media websites, is to use free Social Media listening and monitoring tools such as Google Alert, HootSuite, Ice Rocket, Social mention, and Topsy. Or you can use a professional tool such as Radian6 from SalesForce to “quickly and effectively track, monitor, and react to comments, questions, and complaints as they happen (SalesForce.com).” Using these monitoring tools, you can search for your brand name, products, competitors, potential customers, etc., get engaged and generate substantive reports.
Source: SaleForce.com http://www.exacttarget.com/products/social-media-marketing/radian6
Now you can drive revenue by generating and sharing the right content that drives traffic to your website, or you can find customers that have the potential of being converted. By monitoring Social Media, you can generate more leads through improving the customers’ overall satisfaction, and trust.
Social Media marketing, in fact, is a long term commitment, where the company will engage in online discussions and conversations without trying to control them. The corporate will carefully listen to the communities, and earnestly share its views. It will respond to the reviews whether positive or negative, and will try to learn about issues, and needs related to the company, competitors and the industry in general. You may need to know what other people are saying about your company, and your products. What has concerned your target group of customers? And what are their views and needs? Who are the leaders / influencers in the conversations? And what do competitors do in the market?
At the end, like in many other projects, try to adjust your Social Media marketing plan, optimize the actions based on reports and measures and set your new strategic goals. While Social Media gives you an incredible opportunity to build brand awareness and drive website traffic it's important to remember that your Social Media presence can have serious repercussions, if your marketing plan is not well designed and well implemented.