Monday 10 March 2014

Social media for business, where do I start?

If you’re new to using social media as part of your marketing strategy, the first advice usually given is: Make sure you have a clear social media/marketing strategy for your company before getting started!

“How am I supposed to do that?” You may well ask,”When I don’t know anything about social media!”

My objective is to help you take that very first step.

Let’s take a look at what other social media marketers have done and think are important. The data comes from the Social Media Marketing Industry Report for 2013 and is based on responses from 3025 participants. (I thoroughly recommend getting the full free report from

The benefits of social media marketing

The chart below gives the percentage of positive responses on nine different benefits.

More than three quarters of respondents saw both increased exposure and increased traffic to their sites as the main benefit of social media marketing. Third on the list was the ability to gain marketplace insights. In contrast, only 43% saw an immediate benefit of improved sales. However, this did increase where companies have been marketing by social media for several years or more.

The immediate benefits of social media marketing are high visibility and interaction with your customers and being better informed about your market place.

Which Social media?

This question can be interpreted in two ways:
  1. Which social media do companies use?
  2. Which is the most important social medium for a company?
The answers fall out slightly differently, depending on whether you’re a B2B business or B2C business.

B2B Companies tended to use several social media in their marketing strategies. Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging were the most used social media for B2B. Twitter, YouTube and Google plus followed with Pinterest being a new star on the horizon.

However the two media that had the greatest importance for B2B marketers in 2013 were Facebook and LinkedIn.

For businesses marketing directly to customers, the two main media used were Facebook and Twitter, with LinkedIn, blogging and YouTube roughly equal thirds. Pinterest was also a rising star here. However Facebook was by far the dominant medium of first choice for B2C business marketing at 67%, with blogging and Twitter following with 19 and 16% respectively.

Possible trends for 2014

The next targets for companies using social media marketing in 2014, were greater use of YouTube, Pinterest and Google plus. Another star on the horizon is the use of podcasting, i.e. using downloadable voice and sound.

Taking the first steps towards your own social media marketing strategy

My personal recommendation is to proceed as follows:
  1.  Choose ONE social medium to start with and join.
  2. Set up an interesting personal profile and/or company profile to get started with on your chosen platform.
  3. Invite a close circle of business friends and colleagues to like you or follow you or link with you, depending on which social medium you’ve chosen.
  4. Use your membership of the social medium to mine it for facts, information and contacts in your business area of interest.
  5. Do add your own interesting and relevant contributions to discussions and groups.
  6. Persevere on a regular basis until you have a good feel for the medium you’ve chosen.
  7. With the information and confidence gained, re-assess and refine your company’s social media marketing strategy. Add other social media to your marketing strategy.

How much time should I spend on social media marketing?

Newcomers to social media tend to spend less than five hours a week on their social media marketing. As people become more confident over time, this increases to more than six hours a week. In fact a third of marketing businesses spend more than 11 hours a week on social media marketing. The reality seems to be as with anything, the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Where can I get more help and information?

I thoroughly recommend getting the full free report from for more statistics and insights on social media marketing in 2013.

Ask friends and business colleagues who are more experienced at social media marketing. See if there is one who is capable and willing to share their experience at a level comfortable to the novice.

The Huntingdonshire Business Network members are helpful and knowledgeable in social media.

Look for free or paid courses in getting started in social media. If the teacher is great, fantastic! You’ll learn directly from them. If they confound you with long words and lose you pretty quickly, turn to your classmates - at least you’ve gained a self-help group!

If you’re based in and around Cambridge, UK, I’m available to help for a small fee :).

Good luck with your social media marketing adventure. Let me know how you get on!

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