Five things you REALLY need to know about Social Media

Social Media

 

There an ever-increasing amount of hype and misleading information about social media and the growth of social networking. This is possibly to be expected because of the rapid growth and importance of social media in today’s online marketing environment.  There are also misconceptions about how “easy” it is to achieve success by using social media. The impression is given in some articles that one only has to open a Facebook account and Twitter a few times a day to achieve results and grow your market. Nothing could be further from the reality about social networking. Make no mistake, social media marketing definitely works and can produce incredible results – but this requires planning, time, research and expertise. The following are some points that you need to know about social media management to ensure that you do actually succeed.

1. Firstly, do not rush into setting up your social network. Setting up your social network requires prior research into your target market or the demographic that you want to connect with or influence. In other words, you should determine who your intended audience is. This will influence a number of important factors – what type of content you will create and choice of the best social networks for your target audience. Not all social networks are created equal. For example, if your target audience are professionals and CEOs of companies, then a network like LinkedIn should be your main focus. More on this aspect in future articles.

2. Prepare to spend about a lot of time on Social Networking. This is an aspect that many new social network enthusiasts underestimate.  Social networking is about interaction, engagement and sharing and this takes a great deal of time. One should spend at least three to four hours a day on networking to make any real impression.  Posting to your chosen networks is only the start of the social networking process.  One also has to engage with your connections and followers and send responses, as well as analyse the performance of your networks in order to improve them.  This is why articles that suggest that you can succeed in social networking in an hour a day are misleading. There are many capable companies that offer professional social networking management services – one of the best of course is Imaginet – see Imagi-social.

3. Analytics. It is imperative to analyse the input and performance of your social networks over time in order to determine whether they are driving traffic to your site, where that traffic is going and whether people are talking about, engaging and buying you products or services. Without this analysis one is pottering around in a sea of potential and possibly missing leads and opportunities.  There are a number of excellent applications that can help you with analyses – including the free and essential Google Analytics and effective social media management tools like Hootsuite, Commun.it and others.

At the same time it is also important to understand that not everything is or should be quantifiable. Measurement is very useful but it cannot replace the most important ingredient of social media, which is the personal interaction and the intuitive understanding of your clients or market.

4. Social media is all about engagement and communication. You will not have much success if you merely post to your networks and do not interact and communicate with your target audience. This is an absolutely essential aspect of any real success in social media marketing

5. Expertise and learning. Social media is relatively new is developing at an exponential rate which means a very high learning curve. One has to develop a certain degree of expertise and knowledge about this field and this requires research and being continually aware of the latest developments and applications.  You should spend some time checking out and learning about the latest changes in social media and the most recent applications that can help you to manage this growing online phenomenon.

I will be writing in more detail on each of these aspects – so watch this space!

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Gary Bruce Smith is a freelance writer and editor of the South African Writer network. View his Google Plus profile.