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Your First Steps to Social Media Marketing

I’m often asked where someone should start to market a business with social media. It is really easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices out there: Facebook, blogs, Twitter, YouTube.  Before you decide which platform will work for you or which one to use first, you need to spend some time getting clear about your goals, your market and your message. Since I have a journalism background, I sometimes think of these steps as the who, what, where, when, why and how of a story.

1. Clarify the who

Who exactly is your customer? The clearer you are about your customer down to the minutest detail, the better. One suggestion here is to actually name your customer. For example, perhaps your target customer is Beth, a 35-year-old mom, college-educated, loves to quilt, has little spare time because she has two small children, makes mostly traditional quilts, lives in an urban area, reads Quilters Home, hangs out with other soccer moms. Once you are clear on your target market, it makes it easier to create your marketing message. You can picture your customer.

2. Clarify the what

What is your product, i.e., what are you selling? The key here is to think of what you are selling as a benefit. One example I always use when talking about benefits is the Michelin tire ad with the baby sitting inside the tire. Michelin is not selling tires, it is selling safety. Ask yourself what problem you are solving for your customer.

3. Clarify the where

Where are you going to find your customers? When you got really clear about your target market, the who, you also should have thought about where they hang out. This would be the time to think about who uses Twitter vs. Facebook vs. blogs vs. email newsletters (ezines). Generally Twitter is big in big cities and big with a younger demographic. Think the Gen X we’re trying to get into quilting. Facebook is popular with everyone, though the fastest growing demographic is baby boomer women, typically the average quilter according to the latest Quilting in America™ survey.

4. Clarify the when

When and how often are you going to reach out to your customer? You may want to send a monthly or weekly update. You may want to tie your contact into specific holidays or events. You may have weekly sales and that dictates how often you contact your customers. Start with a marketing calendar and figure out what you are promoting; that will help you figure out when to contact them. How often you contact your customers also depends on the medium you choose. You’ll use Twitter more often than you’ll send an ezine. I suggest setting a schedule that allows for a certain number of contacts per day, week and month. Something to remember, too, with connecting with your customers is to give them a call to action, something you want them to do as a result of your message.

5. Clarify the why

Here you should look at the why from two sides – yours and your customers. Why are you using social media and what are your goals? Look at the why of your customers. Why should they care about what you have to offer? What differentiates you from all the other offerings on the street? This is closely related to the what, in that you need to consider the customers’ viewpoint. When I teach business classes, I remind my students that we are all tuned to the same radio station – WIIFM. That stands for What’s In It For Me. Tell your customers why they should care.

6. Clarify the How

How are you going to reach your customer and how are you going to educate them about you and your company? You already know that your customers are lots of places, so go where they are and invite them to come play with you. For example, if you provide good content, people are more likely to value what you offer and come to know, like and trust you. Let people know how to find you. Use the social media icons on all your online correspondence with clickable links. For printed materials, include your social network information. Make it easy for people to connect with you. Another idea here is to offer something to people who join you on one of your networks. This could be a discount or even a free product.

If you answer these six questions, you’ll be well on your way to understanding how to use social media to build your business. If you want more help, please join me for our upcoming five-session Social Media Marketing seminar.

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