Navigating the Social Media Jungle

(Disclaimer: MP Star Financial is working towards getting involved with social media; keep reading to see what we plan to do!

Ignore the social media phenomenon at your own peril.

Businesses of all sizes and in nearly every industry are jumping in. They’re finding that social media platforms offer flexibility and direct communication with a targeted audience at a reasonable cost. If you’re not using social media, it’s fairly easy to get caught up quickly.

There are several options for implementing a social media campaign. You can manage it in-house, out-source it to an agency, or hire a project-based or ongoing consultant. But however you get started, an effective campaign can be maintained in less than a half hour each day.

Here are some of the major social media options, followed by tools that make social media work more efficient.

Facebook. With almost 700 million users worldwide and what’s sure to be a mammoth initial public offering in the works, Facebook is the undisputed 800 pound gorilla in the social media jungle. The site is still more socially focused than business-oriented, but that is beginning to change, mostly because the platform is busy finding new ways to generate revenue from its user base in order to justify the valuation for the coming IPO.

Your company can set up business accounts, or pages, where you can share news and updates with customers and prospects who “Like” the company page. You can also interact with customers on a personal basis, as Facebook lets you conduct polls, surveys and contests.

Through their online profiles, Facebook users tend to volunteer a significant amount of information regarding their personal and business interests, occupation, location, and age. This allows for very effective, highly targeted promotion of your company’s services or products. If your company publishes children’s books, for example, you can purchase ads that will appear in the margins of Facebook home pages of self-identified mothers of toddlers, grandmothers, and elementary school teachers. In theory, every paid ad should reach a logical prospect, based on information previously provided by them.

Twitter. Twitter allows users to communicate in short (140 character) messages to other Twitter users who have signed up to “Follow” them. Twitter claims about 150 million “Tweets” are sent each day.

Originally the domain of choice for celebrities and celebrity wannabes, Twitter has been adopted by businesses to instantly promote special events and promotions to customers who ask for updates. Everything is solicited, so no one feels intruded upon. Other practical uses for Twitter include posting business oriented questions for quick answers – and answering others’ questions, thereby establishing your credibility and expertise. You can also provide quick links to your website, and keep up with news and developments in your industry.

It’s okay to occasionally Tweet about your company’s accomplishments or to distribute links to press releases, but use discretion. Uninteresting or self-serving Tweets can hurt as much as they help.

YouTube. Often overlooked in social media discussions because so much of the site’s content is for amusement or entertainment purposes, YouTube is actually a very compelling low-cost option for business promotion.

For companies that can pull together original video content – like “how-to” demonstrations, or messages from key personnel – YouTube is reliable and cost-effective.

Links from your site to YouTube allow clients or prospects to view your message at their convenience. The company is owned by Google, and claims 160 million hits per month. YouTube is heavily integrated with Google’s search engines, meaning prospects should be able to find your video relatively easily.

LinkedIn. Although still considered primarily a professional networking and job search site, LinkedIn now allows your business to list products and services on company profile pages. It also lets members “recommend” products and services and gives them the option to write reviews.

Managing Multiple Social Media Programs

It’s probably wise to tackle just one social media option at a time. But when you begin to understand the benefits of multiple platforms, there are tools available to make it easier.

TweetDeck allows users to simultaneously send and receive messages through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. The free service utilizes a dashboard type arrangement.

HootSuite is similar, but emphasizes its expertise in online brand management while offering extensive web traffic analytics.

MP Star Financial’s invoice factoring services can make your company’s cash flow more predictable, allowing you more time to run your business and grow your company.
Call MP Star Financial for more information at (800) 833-3765, extension 150.

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