Social Media – A Simple Guide to Getting Started.
As the shift in trend from search to social continues, it makes sense to build your business social network for the future, and consolidate your audience across platforms. Getting started isn’t as hard as you might think, and this 10 step guide should help you on the way to marketing success.
STEP 1: DETERMINE WHICH PLATFORMS TO USE
Whilst it is extremely tempting to create social profiles on a wide variety of social platforms, think quality not quantity, and if you find yourself stretched thin in terms of how much time you are dedicating to marketing and new business, we recommend that you start out building a good following on one or two social networks before branching out and growing an audience elsewhere.
Facebook and Twitter are a good place to start.
You can use the size of your network to grow an audience on other platforms further down the line (cross pollination and promotion of your other networks). We find that Facebook is still by a long shot one of the most fruitful networks in terms of the traffic and quality of traffic that PropertyPal.com receives.
STEP 2: PAGES NOT PROFILES
One of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen on Facebook in particular is Estate Agents setting up a profile instead of a page. A profile is used for “People”, whilst a page is used for “Brands” choose the latter to benefit from Facebook’s advertising platform and from the features such as Widgets for your website etc. If you have made the mistake, and started off with the wrong one. Don’t panic, Facebook have a simple tool for switching one to the other.
STEP 3: UNIFY YOUR BRAND ACROSS THE NETWORK.
Make it easy for people to identify your brand across the various social media platforms you choose to use. That may mean getting your graphic designer to put together profile images for Facebook and Twitter. There are various dimensions for each network, and this may help determine what you need to provide to them. Upload them, and your profile will come across as professional and trustworthy; two things which are extremely important in building an audience from scratch.
STEP 4: FINDING CONTENT.
Content is the lynch pin that connects you with your audience, both on your website and on social platforms. If you are a small business, you can’t expect to create content yourself 24/7, so take time to find out what other places are creating content that is of interest to your audience. Keep a spreadsheet of good sources of content, and how often they are updated, which will hint at how often you need to visit them to find new content. Having a good vault of content sources on the web is key to keeping your audience engaged and entertained.
Some good places to find content which will work in a social context:
Bag the Web is A curation platform.
Two of the larger web businesses, Yahoo and MSN often have interesting content ideas.
Often portals such as ourselves are creating regular content for our audience, you can take these blog posts and schedule them as part of your content strategy overall.
STEP 5: WORK OUT YOUR GOALS.
What exactly are you trying to achieve? More instructions? More new business? More tenant leads?
Figuring out what to measure is important before you even start, so that you can shape your content to meet those goals, and measure how much of a difference it has made to your business.
STEP 6: POPULATE YOUR PROFILE.
Now that you’ve got a few bits and pieces of content, populate your profile with at least 20 pieces of content. No one is going to become a fan of a page that is a ghost town in terms of content, so getting started before you actually start finding your audience is important. Once you have that done, you can begin with inviting fans to like your page. At the outset, this will likely be people inside your own social network. It will be your responsibility to crank the engine to find at least some people to market to initially to get traction.
The following are some ways to get started initially:
- Use your website traffic to promote your social profiles.
- Leave your social media profiles in your email signature.
- Invite your friends and family to like the page / profile.
- Offer a competition to get some traction (give away Amazon vouchers if people like the page).
- Find an existing complementary business and ask them to publish your competition.
- Be creative! You may want to run a Google Adwords campaign to attract your initial audience.
STEP 7: WORKING OUT A SCHEDULE
So now you’ve all this content and an audience to get started with when should you post and how often?
A good rule of thumb is to think about how often you would like to see branded content in your own stream, and think about how potentially interesting the content is to the audience. If your audience is passive, you are going to have to at least start with the most engaging content to get them to like it. We tend to post once or twice a day, on each network that we are using so that our audience don’t either tune out, or decide that there’s nothing in it for them. Respect your audience, and they will respect you as a business. You may decide for example, that as Saturday and Sunday everyone is off work, that you respect everyone’s right to a rest from commercial content.
Or that Friday content should be particularly easy to digest.
STEP 8: ENGAGING WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Engagement is critical if you are marketing on social media. It isn’t a one way street that you just broadcast, broadcast, broadcast and hope that people will pay attention. You need to ask questions, listen and respond, and engage deeply with your audience to gain a following that will listen to what you have to say. You ultimate goal is to share content that others find useful, establish yourself as a thought leader, so they will come back to you when they have any questions on any aspects of the property market. Don’t be afraid to be personal as well as corporate in your tone as this makes your brand more approachable and trustworthy. Remember you are marketing to people, and people want to deal with people not brands.
STEP 9: LISTENING
Once you’ve established your brand on various channels, it is likely that you’ll begin to receive mentions across each of those networks. It is important that you respond to any questions you receive or mentions of your brand that can occur across social media without your knowledge.
So how do you keep up?
Simple. With social media monitoring tools. A few of the best are listed below:
STEP 10: KEEP AT IT.
Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say. All too often, businesses think that social media marketing is some fad, due to the difficulty in getting started and the time to get traction. Set dedicated time aside for marketing, and keep at it, and we promise you’ll see a major difference to your website traffic, your brand, and your bottom line within 6 months. Keep creating content, build out your own website content using the links that you share, and you’ll find people attracted your business organically – the holy grail in marketing.