Inbound marketing relies heavily on content and searchability, but social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are playing a bigger role each year. Why does social media make a difference? More and more customers are relying on social media for referrals, reviews and general information about their preferred topic. Status updates and tweets continue to be highly ranked by Google -- making them some of the first results that can pop up when someone searches your industry.
In the "old" days, simply flipping open the phone book and choosing the ad that looked the best was a valid way to find a business. Now, savvy customers are turning to social media for information on your company -- and what they see can make or break you. Striking the right balance between engaging and informative, funny and trustworthy can be tough -- particularly if you only have 140 characters or a single image to get your message across.
What Does your Profile Say About You?
When a potential client is intrigued enough with a Tweet or status to click through to your profile, what do they find? Hopefully a fully completed and well thought out snapshot of your business -- your elevator speech, a personal photo or recognizable logo and an interesting or intriguing fact or quote is a great start.
Your profile is the perfect place to begin making a connection, building trust and connecting with your followers. If you use a personal headshot as your thumbnail photo on Twitter or Facebook, you can use the header portion for your business logo or a larger image. Users like to be able to identify with a person, not a nameless corporation, and will be more likely to engage with your accounts that feature a photo. According to LinkedIn, users with a personal headshot have 14x higher profile views than users who fail to add a photo.
Your "About Me" section gives you a chance to shine and to inject some personality into your profile. Social media is an informal environment so give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes, share a favorite inspirational quote or an interesting industry factoid in this space to get and keep your readers' attention.
Your Posts: Content is Still King
When you make a social media post, you're making a micro blog -- a miniature statement about your industry, product or company that all of your followers will see in under a minute. Taking the time to plan out your tweets, status posts or pins allows you the time to be creative and to make every character count. Variety, timeliness and even structure count and the tone of your social media posts should match the content you're promoting. Compare the sample tweets below to get an idea of why content matters, even in micro amounts:
Ned Stark knows "Winter is Coming" -- do you? Here's how to get your #home ready for cold #weather #GoT Link to helpful but upbeat and quirky info on preparing home for winter
This Tweet is timely (winter really is coming), pop culture related (Game of Thrones references) and well formatted (hashtags used, short and sweet post with room for links). The customer who clicks through on this tweet will be expecting a little fun with their information and if you've created your posts carefully, your blog or site will deliver.
Come visit Bob's HVAC World and get your house ready for winter: Link to the same great content, but much fewer people will bother clicking through.
This Tweet has issues. It is too short -- short is OK if the text is punchy, immediately understandable and makes a point, this one just doesn't make the most of the space used. No hashtags makes it less likely that the post will be found by other users and it is just plain dull, so there is nothing engaging going on at all.
Make your social media post content as important as your blog or article content and you'll find you have better click through rates and more profile views as well.
Your Positions: Do your Posts Match your Image?
Once you've gone to the trouble of updating your profile and polishing up your planned posts, there is one more thing to consider: who will be the voice of your company. Businesses of all sizes have made errors and had drastic image problems by choosing the wrong person to post to and monitor social media accounts.
The person who maintains your accounts will not only add scheduled posts, they are also the first line of contact for your potential clients. Make sure the voice and tone of this user match the tone you want to project. Foodie giant Epicurious found this out the hard way when they tweeted about the Boston Marathon bombing, using the tragedy to advertise a scone recipe. Backlash was fast and furious, and thanks to the Internet, still available to anyone who searches for "scones".
Though overwhelmingly popular, social media is still in its infancy; harnessing the power of Facebook, Twitter and related sites now will yield inbound marketing benefits for many years to come. Take control of your posts, your positions and your profile and reap the rewards of a well thought out marketing plan.
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