Many of you already use social media in your personal lives, but developing a social media marketing strategy for your business goes far beyond logging in and clicking "share." Use this article as the key to jumpstart your company's social media marketing strategy.

Which social media outlets are right for your company?

By Brad Smith


Many of you already use social media in your personal lives, but developing a social media marketing strategy for your business goes far beyond logging in and clicking “share.” Use this article as the key to jumpstart your company’s social media marketing strategy.


Getting started


If you’re just starting with social media, your goal should be to create a channel where your customers can connect with your company and learn more about your services. It is important to develop an executable strategy for social media success for every social channel you launch — many eager social media newbies launch five social channels at once, just to let them die because they don’t have the time, know-how or funds to maintain each channel.


To get the most out of your social media strategy, introduce new channels one at a time. Once you are comfortable with posting to a channel, consider adding a new channel, if and only if the existing channels will not be neglected as soon as the new network is established.


After creating your social channel(s), it’s important to make it easy for your existing customers and Google Plus (G+) to find your social channels. When people come from your website to your social channel and vice versa, G+ takes note — making your products and services discoverable by millions of people. You can also make it easier for site visitors to find you socially by adding social icons to the top of your website’s pages.


So many outlets, which one to choose?


Each of the following networks has its own social niche. The following is a brief description of each and its benefits, as well as best practices to help you determine which social networks will best fit into your social media strategy.


Google Plus (G+)


As the leader in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Google aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. Not only is G+ a social networking channel, but Google controls 65.2 percent1 of what searchers find online. If you set up nothing else, setting up your Google Business account is imperative and will give you the most value. Generally speaking, the audience is made up of consumers who do not “know” you.


How to use Google Plus


By creating a G+ account, you claim your Google Business Page. Until you do, G+ will provide information about your company that has been gathered from various sources around the web, correct or not. Lock down your company information to get the most out of Google services. Beyond your initial information, you can expand the basic listing by:

Telling prospects about your company’s history, etc. — things that will make them confident that you know your customers and services inside and out.
Inventing fun ways to tell your circles what your company does, so your customers will know you’re knowledgeable.
Getting people excited about a new service you offer. Sometimes visual inspiration can really get people excited. Be creative — take and post pictures of products, or simply post teasers to get clients excited about what’s coming next.

Frequency


Post new information to your G+ Business Account at least two times per week.


Facebook


Facebook exists so that people can share what they love most, with the people or “Friends” that are closest to them.


How to use Facebook


Facebook gives you the opportunity to build brand awareness and social value with new and existing customers by combining business with personal messaging. The people who interact with your Facebook page are most likely current customers, or they are friends or family of a customer. They “like” your company and are interested in what you have to say. Once you activate your Facebook account, you can:

Engage your fans in historical trivia. Not everything on Facebook has to or should be business related. Take the opportunity to engage your audience by posting events in your timeline. A great way to do that is to post a trivia question related to the industry that your fans might find interesting. Then, answer the trivia question with a quick reply, or go all out and reply with a video.
Randomly amuse your audience. Entertainment is the goal of social media, and you can hop on the amusement bandwagon by giving your page a viral appeal. Think about how to really entertain your audience while still including company branding in your posts.
Give fans what they want. You can easily invite your fans inside your business to celebrate special events, services or the holidays.

Frequency


Post no more than one time every four hours and no less than two times per week.


Twitter


Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that can be accessed via native web and mobile applications, as well as various third-party management applications. Get people to trust you and your brand by spreading your message quickly and generating word-of-mouth marketing. Posts are called “Tweets,” and users are referred to as “followers.”


How to use Twitter


Twitter affords you the opportunity to build a personal relationship in a public forum one 140-character tweet at a time. You can use Twitter to provide:

Brief, informational nuggets about your company. Twitter is perfect for live event updates without too much detail — give just enough to keep your fans engaged and interested in what’s happening right now.
Open tweeting to your entire company. Think about topics beyond your products and services, and don’t forget about retweeting other industry-related news and tweets.

Frequency


Tweet daily, but at a minimum of two times per week.


YouTube


YouTube is another social media outlet owned by Google. YouTube’s not just for posting videos of embarrassing moments — it can also be used as a highly effective business tool. You can use it to show off your expertise, share knowledge, market your services, and connect with customers and prospects.


How to use YouTube


You’ve all watched or heard about YouTube videos that go viral and turn products into an overnight sensation. This is your chance to do the same with the services you offer. Once you have set up your YouTube business page, you can create videos to:

Post customer testimonials to add to your credibility.
Post solutions to common problems.

Frequency


Post new videos weekly.


Pinterest


Pinterest is a visual content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. They’re like bookmarks that your customers can add to Pinterest that point back to your website, increasing your company’s exposure to the millions of consumers, known as “Pinners,” using Pinterest today.


How to use Pinterest


Studies show that 21 percent of all Pinners have purchased a product in-store that they discovered on Pinterest2. Pinners can follow your business page or a single board that you create that interests them. Once you’ve created your Pinterest Business Account, you can begin to expand your use of this visual marketing channel by:

Creating a board of new specials.
Providing a “Pin it” button on your website to make it easy for Pinners to “pin” images, videos and other objects they find on your website to their own boards.
Adding Rich Pins that include more details, including price and availability. An added benefit is that Pinners will receive email notification if the details change later.

Frequency


Pins should be made daily, and new boards should be created weekly.


LinkedIn


LinkedIn offers businesses the opportunity to build and engage with customers, employees and industry-related businesses. Using LinkedIn, you can connect and share newsworthy business-related content with your employees, the general public and industry gurus.


How to use LinkedIn


LinkedIn is a great way to connect and engage with business leaders, as well as current and potential employees, so that users will remember your business when they need a new service appointment. LinkedIn is also a great way to keep customers and employees in the loop on what’s going on at your company. Once you’ve set up your Business Page on LinkedIn, you can:

Post updates about your company, including news about new hires, a new location, updated hours or services you offer.
Connect with those actively and not actively looking for a new job who may meet your staffing needs.

Frequency


Think of LinkedIn like an online press release. Post whenever there are newsworthy changes at your business. And, remember, you can also share industry-related news on your LinkedIn page.


Managing your social media marketing for your business not only requires that you understand social media and the proper ways to leverage the relationship between social and search, it also means that you need to understand marketing and getting the best return on every dollar invested.


If you’re not active on at least one social media channel, you’re missing a huge marketing opportunity.


1 http://selnd.com/155XWsJ


2 http://bit.ly/12XvrJ4


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 Brad Smith is ARI’s vice president of product management. ARI creates award-winning software solutions that help equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!” Smith holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran..