How to Integrate a Winning Social Media Strategy 2011 (Part 1 of 2)

Do you remember when the internet was just coming alive, and companies were beginning to have their first generation websites built. There wasn’t a whole lot of flash or interactivity, but it was much like a digital marketing brochure. The first companies to get involved on the internet were nothing less than progressive.Today, the concept of starting a business without a website is completely inconceivable. Having an internet presence is critical a company’s success in the computer age. If you’ve been in the business realm for any length of time, you learn about SEO, website traffic, back links, and driving prospective customers to your site, and how the law of large numbers increases your conversion ratio. In a nutshell, if you don’t get the prospect to your web page, you can’t close them.Enter main stream social media. For the small business owner, this is truly the answer to your marketing prayers. When you engage potential customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and a WordPress Blog, you increase traffic to your company web page, peak their interest in your products or services and create an atmosphere in which word-of-mouth advertising takes hold, and your brand can become famous.Why Social Media? Why Now?• Facebook has more than 500 million active users. If it were a country, and we filled it with all of the users, it would be the third largest country in the world.
• Twitter adds approximately 300,000 new users per day.
• YouTube surpasses Two Billion video views per day.
• LinkedIn has 50 Million members worldwide.
• More than 100 million users are actively accessing Facebook through their mobile device.
• Twitter experienced a 347% jump in mobile browser usage.
• 30.8% of smartphone users are accessing social media through their mobile device.
• More than 35 million Facebook users update their status daily.What does it all mean?• Users are talking about your brand online – if they find you.
• If you don’t manage a successful social media marketing campaign, your competitors will.
• Social media is a powerful viral marketing tool, that quickly reaches a large audience.
• Social media is part of PR/Branding/Marketing. Companies are reducing out-bound strategies and increasing their social media budgets because it produces results.Now is the time to have a strong social media presence.While many businesses have already started on their social media journey, there are so many more who have not yet entered the arena. There are multiple reasons why:

lack of a quality strategy
no design experience
not enough time to manage everything
don’t know how to get started
no marketing budget
There can be other reasons, but none are relevant. Think back to our first example; having a website built back when the internet was new. Do you think any of the companies who opted out of having a website are still in existence? I believe you would be hard pressed to find even one. Back in 1995, corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorship’s had a choice to make. If they chose not to join the computer generation, they made the decision to become extinct.At this very moment, we are on the edge of a similar situation. You will choose to join the social media revolution, or you will watch your competitors surpass you in the race for customers.Focus on the Social Media that has the largest number of users.Is your business still listed in the Yellow Pages? There was a time when every company paid for a listing in their local phone book. At that time, most homes had a land-line phone, and all of those individuals received a phone book on an annual basis.Advertising and marketing has always been about determining who your target customer is, figuring out what they read and getting your message in front of them. With social media, you provide your prospects with great content that peaks their interest. You get a consistent and regular message out to them that aligns with your brand. You keep them coming back for more by engaging them.The problem is there are massive numbers of social networks on the web. While you may want your business to participate in all of them, that’s not a practical objective nor is it necessarily going to be profitable. You want to get the “most bang for your buck.” This means it is necessary to create a quality social media strategy for your business that focuses on the most impactful networks in 2011.We briefly went over the industry trends earlier. The most powerful social networks for your professional presence are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Blogs. Some so-called experts may argue that other networks are close behind, or that certain industries are best suited for other social media. The truth is if you incorporate all five of the top social sites together with a quality business website and integrate your strategy across your company – you will be a formidable competitor in your industry.What attracts a new audience quickly?Having a social media account like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or a Blog is important, but it’s really only the first step in a process. As a business owner, you must filter regular updates and on-going content in to each of your major social networks. Combining quality content, engaging discussion with consistency will enable you to build the highest volume of “fans” in the shortest amount of time.As you build a fan base on Facebook, you have the ability to send out regular messages to your fans. To build you other social networks, simply include an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, or to follow your YouTube channel. Have a plan. Work your plan. See results.