This guest post is by Andre Kay, CEO and CMO for Sociallybuzz, which provides social media management, marketing, fan page management and social media consultation. Sociallybuzz is designed to help brands, franchises, restaurants, nightclubs and retail stores with simple or advance social media development and marketing while delivering businesses and brands the greatest number of options in how they define and reach their relevant audiences.
Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Yelp, YouTube, Urbanspoon and newcomers Google+, Instagram and Pinterest are the most popular social networking platforms. According to an analysis of comScore data, Facebook accounts for 95% of social networking time spent in the U.S., which is 1 in every 7 minutes of consumer time. However, millions of business owners are still very cautious when taking the social media plunge.
Here are the answers to the three most-asked questions from business owners, and how they can start the year off right by implementing an effective social media strategy for their business.
What social network should my business utilize?
The first step is to analyze your business objectives and short and long-term goals. Each social network has its own benefits to reach specific customers.
Facebook is on top of the social networking chain with its more than 850 million users. It allows your company to easily interact with consumers by utilizing Facebook Fan Page, Places Page, Check-ins and Ads to build an engaging social presence and tell a more dynamic story about your business.
Foursquare now boasts more than 15 million users and carries the title of the No. 1 geolocation social network. If your business is a brick-and-mortar company, Foursquare will help you create instant specials and deals to offer customers. It’s also the perfect tool to launch instant viral campaigns.
Instagram: With more than 10 million users, Instagram is a free photo sharing application for the iPhone that allows users to take photos, apply a filter, and share it on various social networking services. You can use Instagram to create and share compelling content ranging from your business products to other appealing brand messages.
How do I successfully manage my social media efforts?
Deciding on how to manage your social media efforts depends on which social networking platforms you will utilize.
Tapping into Facebook’s 850 million users or Google+’s 67 million users, connecting with customers takes more than simply updating your status. It means investing a significant amount of time into your overall social media strategy. If you do not have the time or resources to do so, you can utilize tools such as Hootsuite and Sproutsocial for an automated process or Sociallybuzz (disclaimer: I’m the CEO of Sociallybuzz) for a more hands-on experience. Most of these social media service providers have free memberships and special promotions so you can try it before committing.
Regardless of what you decide, remember to always stay involved in your social media strategy development and execution. Knowing what your customers are saying can make the difference in building an ongoing dialect, customer loyalty and trust both online and offline. We highly recommend breaking up your social media efforts in a three-month, six-month or a nine-month plan.
How much money should I invest in social media?
Part of putting together a dynamic social media plan is your budget and breaking it down into how it will be spent. Your budget spend will determine which social media tools, ads or consultants may be utilized for your business. If you are managing your social initiatives in-house, ask yourself if you can afford to have one of your employees strictly focus on social media. However, having an employee manage your social media can cost more in the long run. Knowing how to log into Facebook or check into Foursquare does not qualify a person as a social media strategist. Deciding on how much money to invest boils down to your budget, brand and goals.
According to SmallBizTrends.com, more than 54% of businesses will invest more money and time in their social media initiatives for 2012. Having a solid social media strategy will help lay the foundation for your initiatives. Also, remember that no two businesses are alike, and social media is not a one-size-fits-all. It takes serious planning and should be integrated with other components for achievable results. Social media is a dynamic communications tool and takes practice to effectively build, engage and grow your business socially.
Ask your social media questions in the comments.