Looking for expense relief? Consider moving in to Social Media.
The recession has dealt a staggering blow to businesses in every industry - but at the same time, the relatively new world of social media is offering some relief.
Before the advent of Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Youtube, businesses that wanted to promote themselves were stuck with the traditional advertising routes - billboards, newspaper classifieds and display ads, radio spots, TV commercials, magazine ads, Yellow Pages ads, flyers left on car windshields and doorknobs, direct mail, and so on. All of those are expensive and results are uncertain - it's nearly impossible to tell which traditional advertising campaigns are offering significant return on investment, ROI.
Social media offers an unprecedented opportunity for free community outreach, increased brand recognition, and - if done right - free advertising.
Plus, its costs are small compared to the regular communications routes. .
Potential costs include: having a website or blogsite designed, and monthly hosting costs, since you need somewhere to send customers. An hour or two per day of your time, or the time of an employee assigned to maintain social media presence. And a monthly email newsletter service such as Aweber, Getresponse or Feedblitz, so that you can keep in touch with your customers.
To begin to benefit from social media's limitless potential, you simply need to follow these steps:
Social Media Campaign Steps
1 Create a website for your business if you don't have one already
2. Create social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook at a minimum.
3. Sign up for an email newsletter service.
4. Start following people in your field or in your geographical area if you have a brick and mortar business.
For Twitter, use www.twellow.com to find people in your field, or geographical area. (For followers in your geographic area - use Twellowhood, which is part of twellow.com. It's free.) People will follow you back. Or, on Facebook, they will "friend" you.
5. Start posting regularly - at least twice a day - on Twitter and Facebook. Intersperse promotional tweets with conversational tweets. Tweet inspirational quotes, Tweet about what's going on in your life, Tweet about a movie that you just saw. Or ask questions - people on social network sites love to answer questions, help, and share their knowledge.
6.For your promotional tweets/posts/updates, you can send out coupons, recipes, contest announcements, free gifts that you give away to those who sign up for your newsletter...All of the advertising that you had to pay for in the past, is completely free on social media sites.
7.Don't forget special occasion promotions - holidays, store anniversary, et cetera.
Remember that being OVERLY promotional on social media sites is frowned on. That's why you need to pay especially close attention to No. 5 on the list above - socialize and build relationships in between the self promotion.
Can social media replace traditional advertising? Only you know your business well enough to answer that question. However, social media, for a relatively low cost (basically - your time) can replace a substantial part of your traditional advertising budget and help you reach a new customer base and interact with those customers on a regular basis.
At a time when businesses are watching every penny, the ability to interact with these customers online can be -- priceless.
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Margaret Ross, speaker and writer, grows and encourages people in business and in their lives. Ross is CEO of the Kamaron Institute, a leading management consulting, training, and market research communications firm. Margaret is the editor of Kamaron PI, the Positive Impact blog, host of Telly award winning Success Class and is a regularly featured guest on America’s top radio shows.