Are you making use of Social media?

This is a guest post from Mark Hall from Improve SEO a SEO Leeds company and a regular speaker at SEO events.

You can follow mark on twitter @therealmarkhall

As we are sure you are already aware social media has become a must have element of any companies marketing plan. A lot of businesses and brands have already got on board with the idea of using Facebook and Twitter for ‘free’ and potentially ‘viral marketing’. However when you look at these early adopters you will see that they tend to be SHOUTING at their ‘fans’ rather than engaging with them, the key thing to remember here is that social media is all about having conversations online and not a traditional advertising medium to push marketing messages.

Smaller brands such as a local hair dressers or a local bar or restaurant have to ensure that they interact with their local online community more and more as we move to read reviews and gain approval from the actions of others online before making a buying decision. Unfortunately most local brands do not do this well at all, which only goes and damages their reputation both online and offline. The best tools that local companies and brands can use to engage with current and potential new customers are Facebook and Twitter, and the easiest one to master is no doubt Facebook.

Below are a list of to follow guidelines that any local company small or large should follow before they embark into social media.

Create your fan page

Do not use a fake profile or a group this is sloppy. lazy and incorrect and a complete waste of time. Set up a fan page and ensure you select the correct category and page name to suit. Once you have 25 ‘fans’ you will be able to select a custom url e.g facebook.com/yourcompnayname

Upload a profile picture

Upload a profile picture, this is a very important area on your page so ensure that you get the most out of this space and use it wisely. Things to include would be;

Your logo
An engaging image
Your products / services
And an all important call to action

You you can upload a decent sized image here as big as 180 x 540 px and for those of you with bigger budgets you should consider creating a custom Facebook landing page

Add extra value

Customers and potential customers will become fans with ease if they feel that are going to gain extra value by clicking that all important ‘like’ button. You could offer a Facebook only promotion such as a discount code, or promotional competition to fans only.

Engage on a regular basis

Its very important that you talk to your fans. When doing this ensure you speak as a first person and that the brand its self has a voice, this is great opportunity to bring out your brands personality. To start with you can write simple updates such as events, product launches and respond to ‘wall posts’ but ensure you add in a touch of humor and a few questions of your won to get some conversations flowing.

You can also post pictures and videos and glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes, as this content will only be available via the fan pages, ‘fans’ will be feel privileged.

Above all do not talk at or SHOUT at your fans, they want to be engaged and feel that they are valued and form part of the brand, talk to them and ‘like’ their wall posts.

Know your competition

Have a look at what your competitors are doing with their social media Facebook and improve on it!

Remember to promote

Its not a case of build it and they will come. You will still need to promote your ‘fan page’ and attract new ‘fans’ .
Integrate your ‘fan page’ on your website, add your custom url to you email signatures, put a sign up in your store, send out a newsletter, pop a leaflet in everyone’s bag.

And remember to do all of this with a smile on your face, don’t throw a baby fit after a week / month as you only have 5 fans nothing great that lasts comes with complete ease, analyze what you are doing and where you can improve engagement and where you can push the promotional activity.