One of the biggest buzzwords in any industry today is "social media" But it doesn't have to be just a buzzword – with a solid social media strategy, you can leverage your customer base to help promote your brand and your products.
What is Social Media?
At its most basic, "social media" is any medium that allows for direct communication and networking between individuals. Two of the most well-known examples today are Facebook and Twitter, but there are many others, like Google+ and Pinterest, that also have substantial user bases. There are specialized networks (e.g. LinkedIn) and geographically-based services (like Orkut). What they all have in common, though, is the ability for anybody to create a profile, connect with others, and share their opinions and experiences with the world.
How Can We Leverage It?
The best strategies involve several different approaches to connect with your customers. Of course, a bad social media presence can be worse than no presence at all -- so you don't want to bite off more than you can chew. Two high-return tactics are maintaining an active presence, and implementing "share" elements for easy exposure.
First and foremost, you should maintain a profile on common networks. Creating a Twitter account and/or Facebook page is pretty simple, and immediately gives a point of contact for people to connect with you. By "liking" or "following" you, both current and prospective customers can directly increase brand knowledge and let their friends know about you.
Creating a profile is just half of the story, though. To really make an impact, you should stay active: post on a regular basis with relevant or helpful info that your followers might find interesting. Your posts can also make a nice addition to your site, by showing a "live" history of what you're putting out. Be careful, though, not to "spam" -- posting too often (more than once or twice a day, usually) or posting the same things repeatedly is a quick way to get unfollowed, un-liked, or blocked.
Another simple tactic is to include "share" buttons in relevant locations on your site. Allowing users to post a link to one of your products or articles with one quick click is a good way to drive organic traffic. Again, though, you must be careful; share buttons should never get in the way of your content. They should be accessible but unobtrusive, to prevent frustration.
The "Dark Side" of Social Media
As useful as social media can be, it isn't always pretty -- so you should be proactive and diligent in monitoring your presence. It only takes one disgruntled individual to start a landslide of negative opinion, so you should ensure that any complaints that do pop up are quickly addressed. Even if you can't please everyone, others will see that you're engaging them and not just ignoring the situation.
We Can Help
Integrating a solid social media strategy into your existing processes and technology can help build your brand, and give you a lot of insight into what your customers and clients are thinking and doing. At Smart Software, we are able and willing to work with you and determine how you might better integrate social media into your web site or application to get the best possible return.