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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Why should I incorporate social media into my business?

Up until a few years ago, the term ‘social media’ was unheard of. Today, it’s inescapable. If you’ve got a Facebook or MySpace page, a Twitter account, or you regularly log on to YouTube to watch videos, you’re taking part in the social media revolution.

The rapid rate at which the use of social media is increasing is astonishing. YouTube is now reportedly the second largest search engine on the internet with 2.6 billion search queries a year – an incredible statistic when you consider that it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. In short, you can’t ignore it.

There are many reasons why social media is becoming ever more important within the business community. Firstly, it’s an excellent way of reinforcing existing relationships. Many businesses which want to share information can do this easily on Facebook or via Twitter.

It’s also the fastest method of disseminating your information to a wide range of people. Corporate Twitter accounts are a great way of broadcasting company news quickly and concisely. If you post a Tweet, it’s there in the public domain immediately for everyone to see.

Twitter is also excellent for driving people to corporate blogs. By including teasers of your blog entries in your Tweets, you can generate interest and encourage your audience to view your blog in full.

And thanks to YouTube, incorporating video content into your operations can be done with the minimum of fuss. By simply creating a YouTube channel, you can host all of your videos in one place and invite your audience to come in and take a look. It also means you don’t have to slow your website down by using it to host 200 megabyte videos.

But how do you make it work for your business? By following a few simple steps, you can use social media effectively.

Plan ahead – Before you start incorporating social media into your business activities, think about why you’ve chosen to do it and what you want to achieve. Most businesses which are unsuccessful in integrating social media fail because they have no idea what they want to get out of it.

Measure your success – In the past, one of the main criticisms of social media was that it was virtually impossible to measure its success. However, it’s now much easier to do this by seeing how many friends you have on Facebook, how many followers you have on Twitter, or how many views your YouTube video has had. If you’re using social media to try to generate more hits on your website, you can use a programme such as Google Analytics to monitor website traffic.

Know your audience – It’s important to remember that online, people congregate around areas of interest rather than demographics, so ensure you know your audience and give them content and topics that match their interests.

Be different – By all means, look at what other people are doing in terms of social media campaigns but making your Tweets, Facebook page or YouTube videos different is the key to success. For example, if you’ve got a blog, choose an interesting subject to focus on which nobody else is commenting on. Better still, find somebody with an interesting take on a particular situation to write the blog.

Key words – Finally, it’s essential to include as many of your key words as possible in your descriptor on your social media pages as this will improve your search engine position. The more of your key words you can incorporate into your Tweets and Facebook status posts, the better. It’s also important to remember that you need to revisit your key word selection regularly and fine-tune it to ensure that your name stays at the top of popular search results.