Social media is the new way to reach customers for any business. If you aren’t using these online sites, you have heard of them— Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. What you don’t know is how these sites can bring new business to you every week if you use them effectively. You may be thinking, “I don’t have a ton of money to launch a social media marketing plan.” The good news is—these sites are free! All that is required is your time and some knowledge of how to leverage these sites to grow your business.
Twitter is a “microblogging” site that allows you to “tweet” messages in less than 140 characters. It does sound difficult at first but here are some examples of effective “tweets.”
- “Lunch special today only. Call 555-5555 by 5 p.m.”
- “Nearly two million children saw a chiropractor last year. Call us for an appointment for your child. 555-5555.”
- In the market for a new car but low on cash? Call us today at 555-5555!
- Don’t have surgery until your read our free report! www.23bitly.com.
As you see, you can say a lot in 140 characters or less!
How to get started
Like most social media sites, Twitter has an easy sign up form, as you can see by the screen shot below. You fill out some basic information and then you answer a confirmation email in your inbox.
Once you have established your account, you will want to include your profile. Twitter’s profile is shorter than most but don’t forget to include your website. You can also add a custom design to your pages. Under “settings,” go to “design.” Always include your logo and picture. If you are not sure how to design a Twitter page, ask a friend to help. You can also hire a professional designer.
As with other social media, you need to let your business associates and friends know you have a Twitter feed. You can do this by sending out an email announcement to the people in your address book.
But you will want to find potential businesses who may not know about you. You may have heard the old saying to have “friends you need to be a friend.” This is true of Twitter followers. Get followers by following others. Twitter has an excellent search feature that allows you to search using a variety of criteria. This can be by geographical location, profession or interests. Once you find people who interest you “follow” them. They will likely follow you back. You can also find potential followers in your Facebook account. You can directly import these into your Twitter account.
You can also use an application like “We Follow.” This allows you to find other Twitter users but it also allows them to find you. Another popular site is “Friendorfollow.com.” This site allows you to see who you are following but who is NOT following you. It is important that you get the people you follow to return the favor. Without followers, you cannot reach potential customers.
? Twitpic: This allows you to upload pictures directly to your Twitter feed. You are already signed up if you have a Twitter account. Simply log in and upload your pictures.
? If you want to save characters when referring your followers to another website, you can use one of two services. www.tinyurl.com will allow you to shorten the name of the page. You can also use www.bit.ly. Both of these services are free.
? Tweetdeck: This is a great tool that allows you to manage all of your social media from your desktop. The service is free and you can sign up at www.tweetdeck.com.
? You can also add Twitter to your phone. Even the simplest phones will allow you to update your account even if you don’t have your computer.
The story behind Facebook is so fascinating they made it into a movie. The concept was created by a Harvard University student who wanted to create an online network among his peers. Now the site has more than 500 million users, according to information from Facebook. Your business can be reaching these users.
How to sign up for Facebook
Like most social media sites you can sign up for free. Below is the Facebook homepage. Notice the “sign up” section. Once you have entered this information, you will be sent a confirmation email. If you are using the Facebook page only to promote your office, it is recommended that you get a user name that reflects this. Many people have two Facebook pages—one that is personal and one for their business. This is also recommended since you may not want your patients to know all the details of your personal life
Once you are signed up, you will be asked to complete your profile. You can include as much or as little information as you want. Make sure you also include a link to your business’ website.
Having a Facebook page is great but you need people to see it. While you page is searchable by Google and other search engines, you want to increase awareness about your page by adding “friends.” You can get friends in several ways:
? If you have a personal Facebook page ask your friends to join your professional page.
? You may have the email addresses of your clients. Send them emails asking them to befriend you. Keep in mind that some of them may not have a Facebook Page.
? Facebook has a feature that allows you to import your email addresses. Emails will be sent to these people asking them to befriend you.
? You will find many different ways to search for friends on Facebook. Type the name of your high school into the search box and you will likely find some of your classmates in the search results. In fact, you can type just about anything into the search box and possibly find people you want to befriend.
You will also notice a box at the top of the page that asks, “What is on your mind?” This is where you can put your status. For example, someone may put, “Doing laundry” or “Headed to the gym” on their personal page. The status box is a great place for you to promote your business, even if it is your personal page.
The Like Page
You can create a page where people can ‘like’ your business. This was formerly known as the “fan page.” These are free pages that you can use as an addition to your company page or as your company page. To create the page, click on “advertise” at the bottom of your Facebook page. You will be directed to a site that discusses advertising options. Look for the icon that says “pages.” You will be able to create the page from there.
The important thing to remember is that YOU will control the content. However, sometimes someone may make a negative comment on your page. Since YOU are in control of the page, you can delete these comments.
An “Insider” Tip for Using Facebook
You can link all of your social media through Facebook. Import your blog into your Facebook notes section. Tweet your status on your Twitter page. Facebook also has a new application called Facebook Connect that allows you to automatically post the status on your Facebook Fan Page to your Twitter Feed.
While people who are not in business may have never heard of LinkedIn, the site is one of the oldest. LinkedIn began as a way for businesses to connect online in May of 2003. Today it has more than 47 million members around the world. LinkedIn is an online networking group for your business.
Why you should use LinkedIn
While LinkedIn is largely considered a site for businesses to connect with each other, you can grow your business by using the site. Here are some of the ways:
1. Join a regional network group. Most larger cities have LinkedIn groups that allow users from all professions to connect. You may “meet” people in your area that you did not know before. Some of these connections may become future clients.
2. Include a “status” report. Like most social networking sites, you can mention what you are doing at any given time. Use this status to announce promotions or educational resources.
3. Besides geographical groups, you can join groups based on your profession and connect with people from all over the country.
Setting up a profile
Like most social media sites, creating a profile is a matter of filling in some important information about yourself. And don’t forget to add your logo and/or picture! On LinkedIn, you create a “snapshot” that includes:
- Your current location and business name.
- Past positions you may have held.
- Your educational background
- A link to your website.
- Recommendations. These are very important. Ask satisfied customers to write a recommendation for you. This will attract future customers.
Getting the most out of LinkedIn
Don’t join and hope that people will find you. Join a group and get introduced. Invite other colleagues to join you on the site. And if a trusted colleague, client or other business connection joins you, write a recommendation for them. They will likely write a great review for you.
What is your social media marketing plan?
If you don’t have a social media marketing plan, it is never too late to begin. While some predicted social media would be another online trend that would fade away, these sites have proven their staying power. In March 2011, Twitter celebrated its fifth anniversary. Using these sites will help you reach new customers and stay in touch with your current customer base.